Brandie Oros, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, talks to us about the sun safety habits that we can start early on with our families to help prevent skin cancer.
The Skin Cancer Foundation stresses that daily protection from the sun is very important in addition to protection on the big sun days such as a beach day or pool day. It is important to adopt these healthy lifestyle habits for you and your family and practice them EVERY day throughout the year.
- Cover up as much as possible with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) clothing with long sleeves, high necks, and long pants. I recommend wearing wide-brimmed hats with 3-inch (or more) brims and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm. Play in the shade during these peak hours of sun intensity. I even recommend that your family wear sunscreen while playing in the shade because you can never guarantee that the sun’s harmful rays won’t be reflected off another surface (like water).
- Become your very own sunscreen expert. Get to know the many sunscreens on the market, and keep in mind that the best one is going to be the one that you and your family will use every day. Its basic features should include a minimum SPF of 30 and be both broad spectrum and water resistant. Use it liberally and apply as directed and often – every 2 hours or more if sweating or in the water. I LOVE EltaMD® UV Daily. It comes in both tinted and non-tinted versions, and a tip for those busy parents, it’s the perfect three-in-one combination to provide anti-aging benefits, light coverage that works for many skin tones, and a high-quality sunscreen. My family uses EltaMD Sport, as it is mineral based, water resistant, and goes on easily without residue or odor. You can buy all of these at our Elko location, no appt needed. If you ever run out of EltaMD and you are in a pinch, I recommend NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch from 30-100 SPF. It is a readily available option at most grocery stores, goes on easily, and provides great coverage.
- Shield your little ones – The AAD recommends that you keep infants under six months old out of the sun, and to ideally avoid using sunscreen in those first few months. If you’ll be in the sun, use UPF clothing, hats, and sunglasses. There are many options on the market for clothing and even full-body swimsuits for infants, toddlers, and older kids. Check your strollers to see if they have UPF covers and see if it makes sense to have UPF car window shades to shield your little ones in their car seats. Consider sunscreen products containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are mineral-based and physical formulas and are less likely to cause irritation to sensitive skin.
- Look out for windows. No really, if your office is next to a window, you drive for long periods of time, or your family spends a lot of time in rooms with a ton of sunlight, know that you can get some damaging rays through windows. Windows typically block UVB rays quite well, but they do not block the UVA rays which contribute to skin cancer and aging. So, just be aware of exposure to sun through windows at home, work, and even in your car. Install Ultraviolet (UV) protectant film when possible, keep covered, and use your minimum 30 SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen EVERY day, even when you’ll be indoors.
- NEVER use tanning beds. Just one use of a tanning bed raises the risk of all kinds of skin cancer. It even raises risk of melanoma by 75% if used before the age of 35.
- Early detection begins with you, and your family. Teach your kids early on the importance of getting to know their skin and becoming familiar with the spots on their skin. We recommend monthly skin self-exams and annual Full Skin Exams. This goes for everyone in your family. Melanoma is rare in children but can happen. Have all suspicious or changing spots or lesions evaluated by a Dermatology Provider as soon as possible.
- Make Full Skin Exams a habit just like your annual physicals and dentist checkups. All too often busy families will forget to schedule their annual appointments, so I recommend that you pick a month, and get all your annual appointments scheduled. Just make it a habit and schedule well in advance as annual Full Skin Exam appointments fill up very quickly.
- Skin cancer is usually preventable, and unfortunately, it’s on the rise due to lifestyle behaviors. So remember, there is no such thing as a safe tan. Exposure to UV light from sunlight and tanning devices significantly increases a person’s risk for skin cancer and also causes early aging, sun spots, and wrinkles. It’s now common knowledge due to many years of public education campaigns that smoking causes lung cancer. Sadly, most Americans don’t realize that more people develop skin cancer due to indoor tanning than people who develop lung cancer from smoking. Skin cancer is America’s most common cancer.
- Sun protection is important at every age -just one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the risk for a person to develop skin cancer. An easy line to remember, an ounce of prevention (an ounce of sunscreen is the recommended amount for an adult to apply) is worth a pound of treatment when considering sun protection.
Brandie sees and treats patients at Skin Cancer & Dermatology’s Elko location. She’s dedicated to giving her patients the very best care possible while helping them learn more about how to care for their skin. Her services include Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Dermatology. To learn more about Brandie and schedule an appointment click here.