Warm temperatures and sunny days are both wonderful and dangerous, depending on who you ask. In addition to ailments like heatstroke and dehydration, summer increases your risk of developing a sunburn. Don’t let too much summer fun lead to an uncomfortable time recovering indoors. Learn how to protect your head from the sun!
How to Protect Your Head from the Sun
Did you know that one in five seniors gets a sunburn every year? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) learned that over half of senior adults don’t use any kind of sun protection. Many seniors assume that skin cancer and other sun-related ailments are more common for younger people. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The rates of melanoma skin cancer rise exponentially after the age of 65. So, if you’re a senior, you should take sun protection seriously.
Most skin cancer is preventable, and a fear of it doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors. As long as you adequately protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays, you should be fine. However, some parts of your body are easier to protect than others. For example, the CDC studies found that seniors are often not aware that they should take additional steps to protect their heads from the sun. If this includes you, don’t worry. Learning how to protect your head from the sun is just a matter of building good habits.
Sun Protection Is Necessary Come Rain or Shine
Some people think that if it’s cloudy out, you don’t need to worry about sun protection. If this is you, think again. UV rays can penetrate clouds, and even a few minutes of exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. Staying in the shade can help, but you’ll be better off if you make sun protection a part of your everyday routine, regardless of the weather.
Try Face and Scalp Sunscreen
When you think “sunscreen,” you might think of that oily white goop your mom used to put on your shoulders before you got in the pool. However, sunscreen has evolved since you were a kid, and there are plenty of face and scalp sunscreen options these days. For adequate protection, seniors should wear facial sunscreen every day. They should pay special attention to areas like eyelids, the tops of the ears, and other places where skin is especially sensitive. Sunscreen should even be applied to your scalp, especially if your hairline is providing less coverage than it used to.
Add a Hat for Extra Protection
A good sun hat can make a hot summer bearable. However, don’t assume any old baseball cap will give you all the sun protection you need. An ideal sun hat for seniors has a wide brim that covers both the front of the face and the back of the neck, and it is made of tightly woven material, such as denim, which will limit the number of UV rays that can get through. Many sun hats are rated by their ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) right on the label. A UPF of 30 or more is adequate for most outdoor environments.
Do a Monthly Skin Cancer Self-Check on Your Scalp
When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is protection. You might do self-examinations for moles and other skin growths on other parts of your body, but you may not realize you should be inspecting your scalp as well. Use a blow-dryer if needed to move hair around, and view as much of your scalp as you can. Be sure to look carefully for the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer:
- An Asymmetrical growth
- A growth where Borders have expanded (or gotten larger)
- A growth that changes Color
- A growth with a Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- A growth that has Evolved (changed size/shape/color since the first time you noticed it)
If you notice an unusual growth while inspecting your scalp, make an appointment with a doctor right away.
Skin cancer is scary, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Building good sun protection habits will keep you safe and enjoying your summer.
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