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Keep Your Skin Safe in the Summer Sun

Summer is in full swing allowing everyone to go outside and enjoy the warmer weather. Outdoor activities can provide great exercise, but too much time spent at the beach or park in the hot summer sun increases the risk of developing skin cancer if left unprotected.

Jill Weinstein, MD, a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Physician’s Group, says that it is imperative for people to protect themselves in the summer sun. “I’ve seen countless patients who dismissed sun dangers or believed ‘it won’t happen to me’ diagnosed with skin cancer due to sun exposure.” Weinstein recommends five ways to enjoy sun safely.

Know your ABCD’s
A change in size, shape, color or feel of an existing mole often indicates the first signs of melanoma, the most dangerous form of cancer. Keep a close eye on your body and remember “ABCD” when evaluating a mole for potentially dangerous characteristics.

Asymmetry, take note of moles where the shape of one half of the mole does not match the other.
Border, watch for moles where the edges are ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline.
Color, watch for moles where the color uneven, multiple colors or very dark brown or black.
Diameter, watch for a change in size, especially an increase.

Wear sunscreen daily
Only one in five people wear sunscreen on a daily basis, when it should be used every day. It is important to select a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Remember to reapply every two hours, sooner after swimming or excessively sweating, and to cover the entire body, including the ears, tops of the feet, and the scalp where it is parted for the best protection.

Dress appropriately
Before heading out in the sun, think about your wardrobe. Choose light natural fabric clothing that covers your skin. Fabrics like cotton will not only help provide protection but keep you cool and absorb sweat too. Look for clothing made of sun protective fabrics to provide an even better shield from harmful UV rays.

Get a tan without the sun
If you’re looking for a faster, safer way to get a summer glow, use sunless tanning creams, sprays, or mousses instead of risking overexposure. The active ingredient, dihyrdoxyacetone, is safe, but unless it contains SPF, it will not protect you from the sun.

Limit your exposure
Although it is tempting to spend all day in the summer sun, it’s important to remember to avoid exposure to the sun during peak hours. Avoid over exposure during the sun’s strongest hours, typically between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Taking simple, preventative steps to protect your skin from the sun’s rays will allow everyone to enjoy the outdoors safely this season,” said Weinstein.

For more information on how to keep your skin healthy this summer, and year-round, visit or call (312) 926-DOCS.

About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 854-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 205-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois.

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial is one of the country’s premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with its Prentice Women’s Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital comprises 854 beds, 1,603 affiliated physicians and 7,144 employees. Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women’s health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopedics.

Northwestern Memorial possesses nursing Magnet Status, the nation’s highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence, and it is listed in 12 clinical specialties in U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Hospitals” guide. For 10 years running, it has been rated among the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation’s annual survey for 11 years.

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