Home  >  Carol LeBeau  >  Carol's Health Journal | 19. September 2010

Summer Skin

19. September  2010

While folks across much of the country are putting away their white accessories and preparing for the first frost of the season… we’re just getting started! San Diego’s “endless” summer means warm days and balmy nights, often well into October!

But there can be a downside to those bonus hours of sun. The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 11 thousand people will die from skin cancer this year. Not surprisingly, the risk is greatest for those of us living in “sun-belt” areas such as Southern California.

I think most of us are aware of the risks. Wearing hats and applying sunscreen are part of our daily routines. But if you’re like me, it’s easy to let down your guard as the sun continues to shine past Labor Day. Just the other day, I was halfway to the half-mile buoy enjoying a swim in La Jolla Cove when I realized I’d forgotten my sunscreen. I figured I was ok. After all, I’d been swimming all summer. I had a sun “base” and probably wouldn’t burn. No big deal.I couldn’t have been more wrong. As long as the sun’s out, practicing sun safety is a must. So, just to refresh your memory:
  • Avoid the sun between 10 and 4.
  • Look for shade, especially midday when the sun’s rays are strongest. Practice the “shadow rule” and teach it to your children. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
  • Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing as much as possible.
  • Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply after sweating, swimming or toweling off….even on hazy or overcast days.
  • Slap on a hat: Cover your head and shade your face, ears and neck.
  • Wrap on sunglasses: with 99-100% UV absorption.

Don’t let up because it’s cloudy or overcast. UV rays travel through clouds – my worst sunburn ever happened on a cloudy day! And if you want to be consistent in your sun safety practices, avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps can also damage your skin.So, savor the summer sun. Just do it safely and you won’t become a statistic.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.