The Memorial Day weekend is upon us and HSHS hospitals want to remind community members about the dangers of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says skin can be damaged by sun exposure in as little as 15 minutes.
May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month. It’s the most common cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, however it is also one of the most preventable cancers.
Following guidance from the AAD and the CDC, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals offer the following reminders to help keep you and your loved ones safe in the sun:
- Applying sunscreen is important year-round when you will be outside for any length of time with limited or no shade, such as doing yard work, watching a ballgame or taking an afternoon walk. Even if it’s a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin.
- Make sure your sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or higher and has both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) broad spectrum protection.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
Stay in the shade
- This is important during certain hours of the day, especially during late morning through mid-afternoon. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. According to the AAD, a good indicator of when you should stay in the shade is to look at your shadow. Any time your shadow appears shorter than you, you should find shade.
- A wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, head, ears and neck is helpful to protect those sensitive areas.
- A lightweight shirt or cover-up to wear over a swimsuit can also protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Swimsuit manufacturers are also supporting sun safety by creating more options for swimwear that covers more skin such as swim shirts.
For more sun safety tips, visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s Sun Protection Resource Center.