As temperatures heat up across Northern California, summer is a popular time to head outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Being outside in the fresh air can help promote an active lifestyle, reduce stress, and improve well-being. However, too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can increase the risk of sunburn and damage to skin cells, which over time may lead to premature aging or skin cancer—the most common cancer in the U.S. Fortunately, you can prevent most skin cancers by protecting and caring for your skin.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can get skin cancer. Some people may even be at risk for skin damage from the sun’s UV radiation in as little as 15 minutes. With one out of every three adults in the U.S reporting a sunburn each year, here are a few ways to help you care for your skin.
Making a Plan
Protecting your skin is important all year, not just during summer months. Even on cloudy or cool days, UV rays reflect off surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow, and can damage skin. Before going outside, check the UV Index daily forecast in your ZIP code for recommended precautions. Plan to limit sun exposure when UV rays are at their highest—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—and take time for shade breaks.
While all sunscreens can help protect skin against sunburn, only those labeled “broad spectrum” are proven to also reduce the risk of skin cancer when used with other measures, like wearing protective clothing. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher Be sure to check your sunscreen’s expiration date, and if none is listed, assume it has a shelf life of up to three years.
Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going outside to allow time for it to absorb. Remember to reapply every 90 minutes and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
Regularly Examining Your Skin
Regularly examining your own skin or getting help from a loved one can help to detect issues early when they may be most treatable. Start by scanning your entire body with a full-length mirror. Then, use a hand mirror to closely view your neck and scalp. Look for any changes or irregularities, such as a suspicious or unusual spot that appears different from others, itches, or bleeds. If you do notice something, contact your primary care provider to discuss care options, including whether to see a dermatologist.
Accessing Same-day Care
For quick and convenient care for everyday health needs—including common skin conditions like sunburns, skin infections, and rashes—members can book a same-day video visit with a Sutter clinician or an appointment at Sutter Walk-In Care through My Health Online. Adults and children 18 months and older are welcome daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Sutter Walk-In Care. Video visits and Sutter Walk-In Care appointments are covered at the same cost share a member would pay for an equivalent in-person provider visit, or lower depending on plan design, when provided by a participating provider for a covered benefit.