As summer officially begins on Friday, June 21, the days will get warmer, more people across Southern California will enjoy spending time at the beach, as well as participate in outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, camping and swimming.
However, spending too much time in the sun and its harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin cancer, a potentially deadly disease. That’s why it’s important for everyone to protect their skin on a daily basis.
This is true for all ethnic groups, including African Americans, says Dr. Evette Ramsay, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. She noted a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology concluded melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can affect all ethnic groups, is detected in African Americans in its later stages more than in any other ethnic group. This can lead to a worse prognosis and higher mortality rates.
“It’s important to know that no matter which sex or race you belong to, anyone can get skin cancer, and you need to protect your skin from UV radiation to lessen your risk,” Dr. Ramsay said. “Using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is advisable, and it should be reapplied as needed, including every 1-2 hours when in the water or when perspiring. However, using sunscreen alone isn’t always enough. That’s why you should also 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 with the UPF label that helps protect against UV radiation.
• Because their skin is more sensitive, completely shield the skin of babies younger than six 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.”
Kaiser Permanente offers tips on skin cancer prevention, as well as care instructions.