Summertime in Madison is a magical thing, even with Covid-19 restrictions: boating on Lake Mendota, biking on the trails snaking around the city, and hiking up the bluffs of Devil’s Lake. Since the warmer weather will be here before we know it, May is National Skin Cancer Prevention Month. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. So, as we gear up to spend more time outdoors, here’s a refresh on how we can keep our families safe in the sun:
Sunscreen! It’s a summertime essential. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a waterproof sunscreen with a SPF of thirty or higher that has broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be applied from head to toe, wherever skin is exposed. Don’t forget the scalp! Here’s a great list of the best “clean and healthy” resources from the Environmental Working Group.
Be sure to help your kids reapply their sunscreen. They should put it on thirty minutes before going outside and every two hours if they’re swimming or sweating.
While chasing after your kids with a bottle of sunscreen is no doubt a chore, being diligent with it will pay off in the long run. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even fifteen minutes of sun can damage unprotected skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that your chances of developing melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns. Your kids may protest, but keep on them with the sunscreen!
Getting sunscreen to stick to a wet child might be even harder than chasing them down in the first place. Consider buying your children swim shirts to help keep their shoulders and upper bodies protected from the sun.
Hats are another great item to pack in your family’s beach bag. Sun damage can harm any part of the skin, even the scalp. While hair provides some protection, the skin of the scalp still needs more help to stay safe from the sun’s rays, especially if the hair is thin or sparse.
Sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool. Real damage can be done to eyes from sun overexposure than can result in cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal sunburn, and cancer. Too much sun can also damage and prematurely age the delicate skin around your eyes. So, don’t forget the sunglasses!
If possible, plan your family outing to avoid the hottest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If that’s not possible, consider where your family could go to dodge the sun for a while or consider investing in a pop-up shade screen or tent to provide relief from the sun whenever you need.
Resist the urge to baby only your baby’s skin. While your skin may not be as soft as it used to be, it still deserves attention too. As your lather up your kids in sunscreen, make sure you put it on yourself as well. Help your children develop good habits now as they see you take the necessary precautions to stay safe in the sun.
Skin cancer affects more people than all other cancers combined, and at least twenty percent of people will have developed skin cancer by the age of seventy. Dedicate yourself to these simple habits and teach your family well, too. These habits can help keep skin cancer from running in the family.
Our Lady of Hope Clinic offers direct primary care in Madison, Wisconsin, including skin cancer surveillance. To schedule your appointment today, please call: 608-819-8544.
Our Lady of Hope Clinic
6425 Odana Road, Suite 13
Madison, WI 53719
“Sun and moon, bless the Lord” -Dan. 3:62
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