Photo: American Cancer Society
It’s almost summertime and that means backyard barbecues, pool parties, and lazy afternoons in the sun. Before you head outdoors be sure to apply enough sunscreen to generously coat skin that will not be covered by clothing – at least an ounce (or the amount in a shot glass). Most people only apply ¼ to ½ of the amount of sunscreen that they actually need. It should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside so your skin has time to absorb the lotion. Be sure to use a broad spectrum water-resistant formula that protects against UVA and UVB rays with a minimum SPF of 30. Reapply lotion at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.
Some areas of the body can be particularly vulnerable to sun damage. Here’s how to protect those danger-prone areas from head to toe:
Scalp: Hair doesn’t protect your scalp much, especially as hair thins while we age. Since you can’t really put sunscreen on your head, be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat made of a tightly woven fabric.
Face: Noses, tops of ears and lips are very vulnerable to sun damage. Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and apply generously to your ears and nose. Apply lip balm with sunscreen.
Eyes: Eyes can get sunburned when the sun is reflected off water or snow. The damage is cumulative which increases the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Choose sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays with frames that contour your face. Don’t forget the kids, too!
Back: The skin on the back is the one of the most common spots for melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer. Have a family member or friend apply sunscreen and watch for changes (ragged edges, varying color and sizes larger than a pencil eraser) in moles or other skin lesions.
Hands: The backs of our hands get exposed to the sun every day, resulting in thin crackled skin with dark spots. Be sure to wear sunscreen on your hand every day of the year.
Legs: Women’s legs are a common area for melanoma. Be sure to wear sunscreen if legs aren’t covered with clothing.
Feet: Sandals expose skin to the sun causing sunburned feet. Be sure to reapply sunscreen to your feet if you’re swimming. Although it is not a common, the soles of the feet can get skin cancer.
American Cancer Society, Protect Your Skin From the Sun, Stacy Simon, May 11, 2015.
Gannett News, USA Today, May 3, 2015,“Sunny days ahead, so don’t forget to cover up”.
Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.
Reviewers: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed OSU Extension; Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA.