Stay Safe in the Sun this Summer
Published Monday, August 15, 2022
Caitlund Davidson, Health Promotion and Communications Planner
While you’re outside enjoying the fresh, warm air that the summer has to offer, remember to be sun safe – it’s worth it in the long run.
The number of new cases of melanoma, a highly dangerous type of skin cancer, has increased in both men and women over the past 30 years. In 2022, it is estimated that 9,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma and 1,200 will die from it. Skin cancer is relatively common and can be life threatening. Therefore, it is important to use preventative strategies to protect yourself.
Evidence shows that the highest risk factor for developing skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, tanning booths, and sun lamps. Monitoring the amount of time spent in the sun and shielding yourself from it is just as important as avoiding tanning booths and sun lamps. Some other risk factors for melanoma include the number of moles one has, having a fair complexion, and having a personal history of skin cancer.
Tips for staying sun-safe this summer:
- Mind your time. UV exposure from the sun is typically highest between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. or when the UV index is 3 or more. During these times try to stay out of direct sunlight and move into the shade by sitting under a tree or by using an umbrella.
- Cover up. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to cover your arms and legs and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, face, neck, and ears. It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV exposure.
- Slather on sunscreen. Make sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on exposed parts of your body and SPF 30 or higher if you work outdoors or plan to be outside most of the day. Apply it 20 minutes before you go outside, and reapply often, including after swimming or excessively sweating. Even if your skin doesn’t burn easily, sunscreen helps to prevent skin damage including wrinkling or sun spots.
- Check yourself. Be sure to check your skin regularly for changes or areas that could be of concern. These changes can happen in a mole or spot that is already on your skin or can appear as a new mole. Experts recommend following the ABCDE rule to help detect melanoma early:
- Asymmetry: The shape on one side of a mole is different from the other side.
- Border: The border or visible edge of the mole is irregular.
- Colour: The colour of the mole is not the same throughout. There is a colour variation with brown, black, red, grey or white areas within the area of concern.
- Diameter: The size of the mole is more than 6 mm across or noticeably growing.
- Evolving: Look for change in colour, size, shape, or feel of the mole (i.e. itching, tingling or burning).
Other signs to watch for are sores that don’t heal, or patches of skin that bleed, itch, or become red and bumpy.
The thought of developing skin cancer can put a damper on enjoying our short summer season, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stay safe in the sun this summer and protect your skin.
Sources: Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Dermatology Association