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7 Summer Skin Safety Tips for Seniors
Did you know ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and other sources like tanning beds are the #1 cause of skin cancer? Too much exposure to the summer’s hot rays can not only cause sunburn and wrinkles, but also more extreme issues like melanoma. Even as you age, it’s important to protect the skin you’re in, look for common signs of skin cancer, and consider summer skin safety for seniors.
Protect your health and defy skin cancer by staying sun smart.
- Seek shade.
Protecting your skin from the sun doesn’t mean you can never go outside. Especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its hottest, use an umbrella or sunshade. Stick to shaded areas while at the beach or pool, or look for a tree or shady porch away from direct sunlight. If you’re too hot outside, move indoors to a cool room.
- Cover up.
Wear protective clothing. When you are out in the sun, wear loose, lightweight clothing made of breathable fabric and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin as much as possible. Protect your eyes, too, with wrap-around sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light. While wearing protective clothing can reduce your chances of sunburn and skin cancer, sunglasses can help to reduce sun damage to the eyes that causes issues like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration in seniors.
- Use SPF sunscreen.
Never go outside without applying sunscreen, especially during summer. Every skin tone and every age requires daily sun protection. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply every 2 hours, as well as after swimming or sweating. Opt for a brand that is sweatproof or waterproof. Check the expiration date, too. Because some sunscreens can take time to work, apply about an hour before you head outdoors.
- Get vitamin D from food, not just the sun.
There are other ways to get important vitamin D nutrients than sunlight. A healthy diet and supplements rich in vitamin D are key to maintaining strong bone health. Rather than subjecting your skin to daily UV rays, consider your diet, too. Low-fat and fat-free dairy products and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are loaded with vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about other sources of vitamin D beyond the sun.
- Check your medications.
Many medications cause increased sensitivity to the sun. These include certain antibiotics, antihistamines, diabetes medications, diuretics, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Before going on vacation or heading out in the heat, talk to your doctor or caregiver about your medications. Don’t forget to ask about interactions with sun and heat.
- Avoid heat stroke.
Adults over the age of 65 are more likely to experience heat-related issues like heat stroke. These issues are 100-percent preventable by watching your water intake, staying cool or indoors during hot days, and wearing lightweight clothing. You can read more about preventing heat stroke in our blog article, “Heat Stroke & Seniors: How to Stay Safe During the Summer Heat.”
- Don’t forget to moisturize.
Aging skin is particularly prone to dryness. If you’ve spent the day outside, be sure to moisturize after to prevent water loss from the skin’s layers. Drinking plenty of water is another important step of summer skin safety for seniors. Hydrating is good for your skin’s elasticity, plus dehydration can come on quickly and can be very dangerous, especially for seniors. Plus, the feeling of thirst increases with age. Be sure to drink 6-8 glasses a day, more if you’re active or outdoors in hot weather.
If you notice any of these changes to your skin or common warning signs of skin cancer, call your doctor immediately. Early detection is key to early treatment.
- Unusual moles, especially a change in appearance of size, shape, and color or itching, oozing, and bleeding
- Changes in pigmented skin
- Open sores that won’t heal
- Redness or a new swelling near moles
- Changes in skin sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
- Rough or red scaly patches
- Raised growths or lumps
- Wart-like growths
- Pink, red, or purple shiny bumps
- Unusual lumps or bumps on the skin