The temperatures are on the rise, and on the Gulf Coast we know that the summer sun can be unrelenting. While getting outside can be a great way to relax and soak up some vitamin D, being unprotected in the harsh sunlight can have major consequences. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and can be caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. This UV light is invisible radiation that comes from the sun, but can also come from artificial UV lightbulbs in tanning beds. The radiation from this wavelength of light can damage skin cells.

Summertime isn’t the only time to protect your skin from the sun, as UV light is constantly streaming from our giant ball of burning gases. Year-round protection should be considered by everyone, even when you wouldn’t think you’d need it. National and local weather stations report the UV index every day, and anything over 3 can damage your skin. UV rays can reflect off concrete, snow, water, and sand, even on cloudy or cold days, so it is extremely important to protect yourself every time you step outside.

There are several ways to protect your skin from sun and UV damage when heading outside, and we recommend combining all or most of these methods to create the highest form of protection possible. If you can find it, stay in the shade! Shade from trees, umbrellas, or canopies, other shelter can block the harmful UV light from making its way to ground level. Wearing protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and pants can shield the skin and eyes, but some climates like ours in southern Mississippi make this a less than attractive option.

Sunscreen is the most effective preventative measure you can take when stepping outside. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a high SPF, or sun protection factor, can significantly decrease the risk of sun-related skin damage. Some products like moisturizers and lip balms have SPF in their formula, which helps to cut down on your routine by combining the SPF with other product you would already be using. Reapplication is necessary because the effectiveness of sunscreen decreases over time, especially after swimming or sweating. Read the instructions on your brand of sunscreen, and strictly adhere to the reapplication schedule.

At Roger’s Family Pharmacy, we know that prevention is key to maintaining overall health and wellness. We carry a wide variety of sunscreen products, as well as other products that include SPF to take one more stress away from your summertime fun! We certainly suggest consulting with your primary care physician or dermatologist about your personal health and sun safety. You may also consult your local pharmacist at Roger’s Family Pharmacy at (601) 582-8351 for additional information.