Skin cancer has no age limit. And it certainly doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of all ages, colors, and races. Back in the day, a summer skincare routine consisted of some baby oil and maybe a little zinc oxide. Today, we know much more about the dangers of the sun’s rays and take a bit more precaution when being exposed while outdoors.
Protecting your skin from the sun is important for all ages, but especially for older adults. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive to UV exposure. One in five Americans develop skin cancer, with the average age of people diagnosed with melanoma being 63. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from the sun and its harmful rays. With summer right around the corner, here are some summer skin care tips for older adults to help keep you and your skin healthy and safe.
1. Lather Up
One of the main skin care tips for older adults, and anyone for that matter, is to wear sunscreen. And we don’t mean just when you’re at the beach or by the pool. Every single day! Before you step outside, even just to run errands, you should apply some type of SPF protection. Sunscreen helps protect against ultraviolet radiation, including UVB and UVA rays.
A great way to ensure your skin is protected is to use a moisturizer with some UV protection. And when spending extended periods outdoors, be sure to use at least SPF 30. You should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun, and don’t forget to reapply every 90 minutes.
2. Seek Shade
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from the sun and potential skin cancer is by staying in the shade when outdoors. You should try to avoid the sun from 10 am – 4 pm when UV light is strongest. And when you’re outside, bring an umbrella to shield you or find a tree that will offer some reprieve. A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and additional clothing covering can also help to protect your skin.
However, it’s important to note that even if you’re in the shade, you should still wear SPF. This is because the sun’s rays can hit you from all directions and even reflect off of things, such as the sand at the beach. Also, even on a cloudy day, when you think the clouds are providing you with shade, you can still get sunburned.
3. Be Mindful of Medications
Thinning skin isn’t the only reason seniors are at an increased risk for sun damage. In addition to their skin, most seniors take one or more prescription medications. This, too, can leave your skin more sensitive to sun exposure. Many prescription drugs can cause you to become hypersensitive to the sun, leaving you at risk for sunburn, swelling, and other negative side effects.
4. Check Your Skin Routinely
Prevention and early detection are key to Better Health and staying healthy. It’s important that you examine your skin at least once a month. If you see anything new or an existing spot has changed, you should schedule an appointment with your provider or dermatologist immediately. Look for changes in size and color. Skin cancer looks different for everyone. Here is a quick reference gallery of some examples of skin cancer. Catching skin cancer early can make it easier to treat and may just save your life.