The heat is on! Stay safe while enjoying the summer

June 5, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Be sure to protect yourself against the elements when enjoying the Michigan summer.

Summer will officially be here before you know it — and with it comes vacations, trips to the beach, outdoor festivals and art shows.

But to make the most of your summer, it’s vital that you protect your body from the elements.

Here are a few tips from Michigan Medicine experts to ensure you stay safe over the next few months:

Protection is paramount

Did you know that 20 percent of Americans have some sort of skin cancer? That makes it the most prevalent form of cancer in the U.S.

“The easiest way to stay safe is to cover up in the sun, as cumulative exposure to sun is what ultimately predisposes a person to skin cancer and accelerated aging.” said Frank Wang, M.D., associate professor of clinical dermatology at Michigan Medicine. “That means you should use at least a 30-SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear a broad-brimmed hat or clothing that covers as much skin as possible to limit the amount of exposure during the hottest hours of the day.”

Indeed, tightly-woven fabric and other protective clothing is important because using sunscreen isn’t always enough — especially if it is not being used effectively. Wang shared tips on helping you avoid making common sunscreen mistakes that could lead to preventable skin damage. Check them out here!

Don’t delay treatment

If you are in the sun for too long, you’ll likely notice a burn or other types of skin damage. Should that happen, find shade or go indoors as soon as possible. The longer you’re in the sun, the more damage will be done.

To treat a burn, follow these guidelines:

  • Moisturize your skin while it is still damp: Aloe Vera or soy is most effective to treat burns.
  • Let blisters heal: Blisters are there to naturally protect your body from further damage, so be sure to avoid popping or harming them in any way.
  • Drink plenty of water: Your body will be using fluids to treat the burn, so the rest of your body may get dehydrated more easily.
  • Take a cool shower or bath: This will soothe your burn and when you’re done, be sure to pat yourself dry and keep your skin damp.
  • Over-the-counter meds are ok: Ibuprofen or Tylenol may help to reduce swelling and redness.

Do self-screenings

It’s also important that you keep an eye out for any long-term damage that can lead to skin cancer.

“If caught early, most types of skin cancer are easily treatable,” Wang said. “Check your skin at least once a month, looking for any new or changing moles or spots that you may not have noticed before.”

The Rogel Cancer Center provides a self-check guide to help you monitor your skin for anything that may be abnormal.

Replenish fluids

Protecting your skin isn’t the only important thing to worry about during the summer months. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you wherever you go — and don’t forget to drink it! Water is essential to helping you replenish any fluids you lose through sweat or fighting sunburns.

Keep in mind, however, that alcohol, soda and other sugary or caffeinated beverages do not help in the same way. In fact, they could actually cause you to become more dehydrated while out in the sun.

Should you keep all these things in mind, you and your family will enjoy the great outdoors and beautiful weather — all while staying safe.

Happy summer, Michigan Medicine!