Happy fall! Even though you might be packing up your swimsuits, don’t put away your sun protective clothing. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the vast majority of skin cancers are caused by the sun, which can expose you to cancer-causing UV radiation throughout the year. Autumn sun exposure can be just as dangerous as sun exposure in the summer.
Many people think that they just have to protect themselves from sun exposure at the beach or on vacation in the summer. However, every bit of sun exposure that you receive throughout your life time can increase your risk of skin cancer.
That means that afternoons at the park, going pumpkin picking and sitting in the stands at a football game can be a potentially dangerous activity if you’re not protecting your skin.
But I’m Not Outside All Day Anymore
In the fall, you’re more likely to get intermittent, but intense, sun exposure. You may not be outside all day, but if you’re raking leaves in the yard for an hour at noon, you will experience concentrated UV exposure.
This can cause sunburn and lead to melanoma. Patterns of periodic but intense sun exposure can also lead to basal cell carcinoma. Although this is not the deadliest form of skin cancer, it’s the most common.
One severe sunburn can increase your chances of developing melanoma when you’re older by more than 100%. In addition, almost 3 million people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma in the U.S. alone every year.
I Didn’t Even Realize I Was Getting Sun Exposure
That’s what we hear from most people in autumn. Every day, you might walk to work or spend your lunch break on the picnic table outside your office. Even walking back and forth to and from the parking lot at the grocery store every week can add up.
Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are associated with routine brief periods of sun exposure. This can cause serious skin damage in the long term. (Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.)
Parts of your skin that are frequently exposed are the more likely to develop basal cell carcinomas. That means that even if you’re wearing your sleek Cabana Life dress with tights and boots, you still need to protect your face, ears, neck, scalp and hands.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Autumn Sun Exposure
- Just like in the summer, you should try to stay in the shade during peak hours, from 10AM to 4PM.
- Wear a sun hat and sunglasses (make sure that they haven’t expired).
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every single day.
- Cover your body with sun protective clothing as often as possible.
- Perform a skin check every month.
- Don’t forget to visit your dermatologist for a professional exam.
Autumn is time to grab an extra sweater and pull on your cute boots to wear with your sun protective dresses, but it’s not time to hang up your hat. Stay sun protected throughout the year and prevent skin damage that can cause aging and skin cancer.