When spring’s long-overdue, much-anticipated warmer, sunnier days arrive, it’s tempting to bask luxuriously under the sun’s rays. Inviting weather inevitably means more time spent outdoors, engaging in our fave leisure activities and soaking up sunshine. But sunbathers beware, says Dr. Justin Piasecki, founder of the Gig Harbor, Washington-based Skin Care Center, who recently appeared on “The Doctors.” More than 40 percent of Americans who live to be 65 will have skin cancer at least once, so prevention is key. Here, Dr. Piasecki reveals five tips for skin-cancer-free living.
1. Re-apply Sunscreen
Most of us remember to apply sunscreen liberally before going outdoors, but we often forget to re-apply. UV radiation neutralizes sunscreen’s active ingredients over time, so it’s imperative to re-apply every two-to-three hours or after a swim, whichever occurs first, says Dr. Piasecki. Set a smart-phone alarm, or bring a timer with you, whatever it takes to re-apply.
2. Cover Everything
All skin needs sunscreen. This includes under your bathing suit, on top of your head (regardless of how much hair is there), and behind the ears. Wearing a hat also adds protection. Clothing does not protect you like sunscreen does. Most clothing offers an SPF of around five, says Dr. Piasecki, and even more tightly woven clothing isn’t as solid as sunscreen. “Don’t ever assume a tee-shirt or shorts are protecting you,” he adds.
3. Axe Vita-D Hype
While some experts recommend spending up to 15 minutes in the sun to aid Vitamin D metabolism, Dr. Piasecki says this is no excuse to lay in the sun unprotected. “Patients claim getting proper Vitamin D metabolism as the reason they tan by the pool or beach. Lousy logic. The minimum direct-sun exposure required for appropriate and healthy Vitamin D metabolism is 15 minutes over the surface area of the hands,” he says. Anything more? Unsafe, he adds.
4. No Tanning Beds. Ever.
You know this already, but remind your kids: Tanning beds are to skin cancer what cigarettes are to lung cancer. Regular tanning-bed exposure increases the risk of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by 75 percent. Teens, especially around prom season, can’t be warned enough.
5. See Something, See Your Doc
Have a total body-surface skin check, by a dermatologist or family doctor, once yearly, says Dr. Piasecki. “Skin cancer is extremely common,” he says. “But it’s curable when caught early. Examine your skin monthly for 10 minutes in the shower. If any lesions change, bleeding with minimal trauma, or becoming a wound that won’t heal, see your doctor immediately.”
When was Your last whole-body skin check?