July 18, 2019

Prolonged sun exposure increases chance of skin cancer

Precautions are key to healthy skin and reducing your risk.

With Southern California’s sunny climate, it’s no wonder people enjoy spending time outdoors with family and friends visiting the beach, walking, hiking, and camping.

However, did you know that spending too much time in the sun and its harmful ultraviolet, or UV, rays can cause skin cancer, a potentially deadly disease?

“It’s important to know that regardless of your gender and race, you need to protect your skin from UV radiation to lessen your risk of skin cancer,” said Evette Ramsay, MD, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park.

“Using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher is advisable, and it should be reapplied as needed, including every 1 to 2 hours when in the water or when perspiring. However, using sunscreen alone isn’t always enough during prolonged sun exposure. That’s why you also should consider taking other steps to protect yourself.”

Protecting your skin

Dr. Ramsay offered the following tips to lessen your chance of getting skin cancer:

  • Avoid the sun during its peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Understand that sand, water, and snow can reflect 85% of the sun’s rays.
  • To protect your eyes, wear sunglasses capable of blocking 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.
  • When possible, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing to cover much of your skin.
  • Wear clothing specially designed to protect against UV radiation, indicated by a label stating its UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, rating.
  • Because their skin is more sensitive, completely shield the skin of babies younger than 6 months from the sun.

“It may not be possible to completely prevent skin cancer, but taking these precautions will help,” Dr. Ramsay said. “Also, keep an eye on new spots or growths on your skin as they could be early signs of skin cancer. With early detection, skin cancer can be treated more easily. That’s why it’s important to regularly have your skin checked by a doctor.”

For more information on skin cancer prevention, check out these care instructions