Basking in the sun? Prolonged exposure increases chance of skin cancer

jumping into water
Avoid the sun during its peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and understand that sand, water and snow can reflect 85% of the sun’s rays. Valley News/Courtesy photo

PASADENA – With summer in full swing across Southern California, and many people participating in outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, camping and swimming, it’s important for people’s health to take special precautions to protect their skin.

It’s a simple fact: spending too much time in the sun and its harmful ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer, a potentially deadly disease. That’s why it’s imperative for everyone to protect their delicate skin on a daily basis.

“It’s important to know that regardless which gender or race you belong to, you need to protect your skin from UV radiation to lessen your risk of skin cancer,” Dr. Joy M. Twersky, chief of Dermatology at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center, said.

“Using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher is advisable, and it should be reapplied as needed, including every 1-2 hours when in the water or when perspiring,” Twersky said. “However, using sunscreen alone isn’t always enough during prolonged sun exposure. That’s why you also should consider taking other steps to protect yourself.”

Twersky offered the following tips to lessen your chance of getting skin cancer.

Avoid the sun during its peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Understand that sand, water and snow can reflect 85% of the sun’s rays.

To protect your eyes, wear sunglasses capable of blocking 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.

When possible, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing to cover much of your skin. Wear clothing with the UPF label that helps protect against UV radiation.

Because their skin is more sensitive, completely shield the skin of babies younger than six months from the sun.

“It may not be possible to completely prevent skin cancer, but taking these precautions will help,” Twersky said. “Also, keep an eye on new spots or growths on your skin as they could be early signs of skin cancer. With early detection, skin cancer can be treated more easily. That’s why it’s important to regularly have your skin checked by a doctor.”

Kaiser Permanente offers tips on skin cancer prevention, as well as care instructions at

Submitted by Kaiser Permanente.