You might not think about protecting your skin when you head out the door for work each day, but you should. With a few changes to your routine, you can easily make sun safety part of your healthy lifestyle every day.

While attention is given to skin cancer during the warmer months, sun safety is important all through the year, not just in the summertime. Most skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, and the negative effects of UV radiation build up over a person’s lifetime. In fact, we can all be exposed to UV radiation while driving in our cars or sitting by a window in our offices. UV radiation is even present on cloudy days, when the sun is not visible.

We cannot completely avoid the sun, but we can be aware of its risks and protect our skin. Many skin cancers could be prevented by following these simple steps.

How to protect yourself

To reduce the harmful effects of sun exposure, you should protect your eyes and skin every day. Try to avoid being directly exposed to the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That’s when UV rays are the most intense.

Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that block UV rays, and offer the most protection for your face ears, and back of your neck. Avoid straw hats with holes that let in sunlight, and if you wear a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen. Wear sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.

Dress in long sleeves and long pants or skirts, if possible, and safeguard all exposed skin by using a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection (against UVA and UVB radiation) that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

Finally, avoid use of tanning beds or sun lamps. Indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers, including melanoma as well as cancers of the eye.

If you have questions about any concerns or questionable spots on your skin, your primary care physician can diagnose and discuss treatment options.

Sources: cdc.gov

McLeod Health welcomes Florence native and internal medicine physician Dierdre Young, MD, to Jeter-Skinner Family Practice. She is accepting new patients. For more information, call 843-662-1533.