Seniors and Skin Cancer
Older adults are at higher risk of developing skin cancer for various reasons:
- Damage from UV rays builds up over time. Seniors have lived longer, so they have been exposed to more UV rays.
- The baby boomer generation didn’t grow up wearing sunscreen. During their youth, it wasn’t uncommon to apply baby oil before laying in the sun.
- With age, the body’s ability to find and destroy cancer cells decreases.
Regardless of how you cared for your skin in the past, you can still benefit from protecting your skin today. By using these UV safety tips, you reduce further damage to your skin.
5 UV Safety Tips for Seniors
- Wear sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen is an excellent way for seniors to protect their skin from the sun. Sunscreen works by blocking and absorbing UV rays. This helps to combat both UVA and UVB rays, which contribute to skin cancer, sunburns, and other types of sun damage. Because the sun can damage the skin in just 15 minutes, apply sunscreen even if you are only going to be outside for a few minutes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using sunscreen:
- Wear sunscreen every day
- Choose SPF 30 sunscreen or higher
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
- Protect your eyes
In addition to guarding your skin, it’s equally important to protect your eyes from UV radiation. Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to various types of eye damage including cataracts and macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes. Consider the following when purchasing sunglasses:
- Choose a pair that blocks 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
- Select close-fitting wrap-around frames so your eyes are guarded from every angle
- Try them on to make sure they don’t slide down your nose
- Wear protective clothing
Wearing protective clothing can be an effective way for seniors to preserve their skin during the summer. By covering the entire body with clothing, the sun’s rays have to travel through an additional layer before reaching the skin. A few types of clothing that help protect the skin include:
- Clothing specially designed for sun protection
- Long sleeves and pants to cover more skin
- Darker or brighter colors because they absorb more UV rays than lighter colors
- Stay in the shade
It’s helpful for seniors to avoid the sun as much as possible, especially between 10 am and 2 pm. During these times, the UV index is higher, meaning there is a greater chance for sunburn. If you need to be outside, do your best to stay in the shade. While the shade won’t guard against all of the sun’s harmful rays, some protection is better than none. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using shade as sun protection:
- Choose large umbrellas as opposed to smaller ones
- Sit under trees with large spreads or trees near other trees or buildings
- Avoid using shade as your only form of protection
- Have your skin examined
Regardless of how careful you are about protecting your skin from the sun, you will still benefit from examining your skin throughout the year. The earlier you find skin cancer, the easier it is to treat. If you notice any new moles or skin discoloration, bring it up to your doctor. It’s also a good idea to have your skin examined by a health care provider annually.
Protect Your Skin Year-Round
It’s essential to protect your skin throughout the year, not just during the summer months. Even when it’s cloudy or cold, the sun still emits UV rays. These rays easily peek through clouds and are often masked by cold weather. Seniors can minimize their risk by employing sun safety tips year-round.
Heritage Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle
UV safety is only one part of healthy aging. At Heritage Senior Communities, we encourage seniors to live balanced and productive lives. Contact us today to learn more about our living options.