Hikers, skiers, surfers, kayakers, climbers, mountain bike riders, and other outdoor enthusiasts know the joy and exhilaration that comes from exploring nature. But a lot of time outdoors exposes athletes and recreational explorers to a major health risk: skin cancer. Here’s a reminder of the top skin cancer risks and how to avoid them.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and sun exposure is a top risk of developing the disease. But you don’t need to sacrifice your favorite outdoor activities if you learn how to protect yourself.
Everyone knows to wear sunscreen, but many don’t reapply it regularly. Use an SPF of at least 30 and put it on again every two hours and after you swim or sweat profusely.
Apparel varies for different outdoor pursuits, but if you’ll be in the sun in the middle of the day or for extended periods of time, it makes sense to wear a wide-brimmed boonie hat that covers the back of your neck and UV-protective sunglasses. Choose clothing with built-in sun protection and opt for long-sleeved shirts and pants that provide added protection from harmful UV rays.
Avoid Tanning Beds
It should go without saying, but trying to maintain a tan by using a tanning bed is a big skin cancer risk. Tanning beds generate UV radiation and direct it right to your skin. This can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who use tanning beds increase their risk of developing melanoma by a staggering 58 percent. It’s best to avoid using tanning beds altogether.
Sun Exposure While Driving
Although it might seem surprising, driving can cause overexposure to the sun’s UV rays, especially through the window on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Before stepping in the car, apply sunscreen on your arms and face, wear sunglasses, and consider investing in UV-blocking car window films to prevent skin cancer.
Perform Regular Examinations
Skin cancer can come in many forms, whether from the sun or tanning beds. Regularly examining your skin for any changes, especially in moles, can help you detect skin cancer in its early stages. Remember the ABCDE test when checking moles: Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving. If you see any changes, consult a dermatologist promptly.
By staying aware of these top risks for skin cancer, you can take practical steps to avoid those risks while still enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. So gear up, put on your sunscreen, and keep exploring the great outdoors with confidence and peace of mind!
We encourage you to try these preventive measures and share your experiences or success stories in the comments section below. Together, we can promote sun safety for outdoor enthusiasts while staying active and healthy.