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The do's and don'ts of summer skin care

For many of us, May, Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, is the time to start gearing up for summer. Whether that means yard work, vacation planning, or hosting a backyard BBQ, you're probably going to be showing off skin that's been hidden over the winter.
To help you get ready for all the fun activities coming up that will require shorts, tank tops, dresses and swimsuits, here is a list of our top ten do's and don'ts to follow:

  1. Do wear broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen and apply regularly when you're outside.
    Typically, people who are sunburned didn't use enough sunscreen, didn't reapply it after being in the sun, or used an expired product. The key is to remember to reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  2. Do seek shade during the sun's strongest hours.
    The sun's rays are strongest between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. A good rule of thumb: if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  3. Do cover up when possible.
    Wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses will protect your skin.
  4. Do use self-tanning product (in conjunction with SPF) instead of going to a tanning bed or sunbathing.
    Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.
  5. Do apply at least one ounce of sunscreen.
    An ounce, which is enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. You may need to adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on body size.
  6. Don't rely on the SPF in makeup to protect your skin.
    Simply put, makeup that contains SPF does not provide enough coverage.
  7. Don't seek the sun.
    Remember, tanned skin is damaged skin. The radiation from UVA and UVB rays (from the sun or tanning beds) can result in DNA damage that ultimately leads to skin cancer.
  8. Don't skip sunscreen on sand or in water.
    Water and sand (and even snow in the winter) reflect the sun's rays, which increase your chance of sunburn.
  9. Don't forget to "treat" a sunburn.
    If you get a sunburn, you should immediately get out of the sun. You should also be sure to drink plenty of water and soothe your skin with lotion that contains soy or aloe vera.
  10. Don't use oil to tan.
    Whether it's tanning oil or baby oil, it will not protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays.
    How can we sum this up? If you're in the sun, you need to protect yourself. Even though skin cancer is easy to prevent, 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime.

If you spot any suspicious spots on your skin changing, itching or bleeding, see a dermatologist immediately. If you have a spot you need an expert to review, simply upload a skin selfie to DermatologistOnCall. Our board-certified dermatologists respond within 24 hours on average.