Protect your skin year-round

As summer carries on into fall, people are still getting outside and it’s a good time to remind ourselves about skin cancer and prevention. According to the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States1Muzic JG, Schmitt AR, Wright AC, et al. Incidence and trends of basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: a population-based study in Olmsted county, Minnesota, 2000-2010. May Clin Proc. 2017 Jun;92(6):890-898. and it is also the most preventable. The incidence of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are increasing, and they are no longer just found on the head and neck but now more consistently involve the torso and extremities respectively. Sun protection is important year-round, not just in the summer months.

Protection is imperative and includes the following considerations:

  1. Wardrobe: wide-brimmed hats, protective clothing with SPF fabric, sunglasses
  2. Sunscreen:
    1. Use SPF 15 or higher with both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection – pay extra attention to areas that are often missed, e.g. lips, scalp, tips of ears,  back of legs
    2. Apply 30 minutes before going outside
    3. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or exercise
  3. Use shade when possible
  4. Consider UV intensity for sun safety, e.g. time of day, season, latitude, altitude, cloudiness
  5. Avoid indoor tanning
  6. Diet: there is limited evidence on protection from dietary considerations

Graphics reposted from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/