Did you know, according to the CDC, nearly 18% of older adults and 15% of sun-sensitive older adults said they didn’t use any kind of sun protection regularly?
Much like aging, sun exposure is one thing we can’t stop entirely – everyone needs Vitamin D and sunshine – but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from sun damage, which can lead to skin cancers. Most cases of skin cancer are found in people older than 65 years of age, and with adults living longer than ever, the greater their chances of serious consequences from skin cancer.
Skin undergoes changes as we age, which weakens our defenses. Damage from pollution, smoking and weakened immune systems make seniors more susceptible to skin disease. Thinner skin also allows UV light to penetrate more deeply, which can make us more vulnerable to skin damage.
The simplest way to protect your skin from UV light is to:
- Stay in the shade. The hours between 10 AM and 4 PM are typically the most UV-intense, so plan outdoor time earlier in the morning or late in the afternoon, if possible.
- Use sunscreen. Make sure you are using a high enough SPF (40+ is preferred) and reapplying at least every two hours.
- Wear loose, protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats. There are clothing options with UVA and UVB protection built in, but lightweight long sleeves and long pants can protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Pay attention to your medication. Some medicines contain ingredients that may cause photosensitivity, irritation or an allergic reaction of the skin, which can occur within a few hours, or days of sun exposure.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about which medications you take and if they may interact with sun exposure, especially in the hot summer months.
Taking precautions will allow you to enjoy fun in the sun and stay safe and healthy for years to come!