Splashing at the pool or lake makes for great summer fun and memories.
Although those warm rays can make us feel good in the short term, long-term exposure to the sun can accelerate skin aging — wrinkles and brown spots. And it can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
To help swimmers protect and prevent against the sun’s damaging rays, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is providing Sunscreen Stations at several area swimming pools this summer. The dispensers, which contain SPF 50 sunscreen, are available at the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, Eudora Aquatic Center and Tonganoxie Water Park to help defend against harmful ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays. This sunscreen also is free from potential allergens, chemicals and preservatives that can irritate skin.
“Wearing sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself when outdoors,” said Dr. Jared Konie, with Lawrence General Surgery. “The key to enjoying a fun day at the pool, without getting a sunburn, is to practice sensible sun exposure.”
Konie recommends applying sunscreen at least 15 to 30 minutes before going in the sun. Use a teaspoon of sunscreen for each body part or area that is exposed — that’s one teaspoon for your face, head and neck; one for each arm; one for each leg; another for your chest and abdomen; and another for your back and back of your neck. And don’t forget your ears, the insides of your arms and the tops of your feet — all fairly easy spots to miss. Reapply every two to three hours while you’re in the sun and after you swim or sweat a lot.
It’s also important, especially for younger children, to wear protective clothing.
“Try to limit outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most damaging,” Konie said.
Sun damage can increase your risk for skin cancer, the most prevalent form of all cancers in the United States. Research shows that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.
“Pay attention to your body,” Konie said. “If things are changing or if you have a question, see your doctor. When detected early, most skin cancers respond successfully to treatment and don’t become a life-threatening condition.”
For more information about skin cancer, start with your primary care provider or your dermatologist, who can talk with you about your risk factors and evaluate your skin’s health. To find a primary care physician, please visit lmh.org/providers.