You hear the same advice every summer: Slather on sunscreen and limit your time in the sun. Those rules still apply, but not everyone is getting the message, and rates of melanoma are on the rise.
Although melanoma isn’t the most common cancer – it’s third behind basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – it is the most deadly. In 2021, rates of melanoma are expected to rise by 5.8%, and women under 50 are being hit harder than men of the same age. Two reasons explain the rise. “The overall increase in skin cancers has to do with cumulative sun exposure combined with lack of adequate sun block or protection from UVA/UVB rays,” says Ava Shamban, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles and founder of Ava MD Dermatology, SkinFive Medical Spas and The Box by Dr. Ava. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
This summer, get smarter about your sun exposure. Here are five often-forgotten facts you need to know to protect your skin.
1 YOU SHOULD WEAR SUNSCREEN 365 DAYS A YEAR.
You may not think about wearing sunscreen when it’s cloudy or rainy or even during winter. Yet you should. “The most harmful ultraviolet rays are present every day,” Shamban says. “They don’t retreat in winter and can filter through dark cloud coverage, which is why any uncovered areas of the body at any time of the year are exposed and vulnerable to the damage of the sun’s UV rays.” Easy solution? Make sunscreen application as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB with an SPF of at least 30 and slather it on when you get out of the shower in the morning as you would lotion. Consider using sunscreen anywhere above or below the towel, including your legs, arms, shoulders, décolletage, neck, face, ears and hands. The American Cancer Society also suggests a lip balm with sunscreen. You might even add a hand cream, moisturizer or makeup with sun protection to your daily routine. These won’t replace sunscreen but will offer added support for vulnerable areas that are never covered in your reapplication plan, Shamban says.
2 YOU SHOULD GO THROUGH A BOTTLE OF SUNSCREEN EVERY FEW MONTHS.
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