By Dr Alan J. Parks

With summer fast approaching, warm weather, summer hours, and bikinis are on the minds of most. As exciting as the summertime is, it’s also the time of year where the sun’s rays are most harmful and dangerous. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and one out of every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that in the summer, and all year round, there are many things you can do to protect your skin from here sun. Here are some tips:

Use SPF in all of your products (moisturizers, anti-aging creams, etc)

Dermatologist Dr Alan Parks of DermWarehouse says, “The biggest mistake I see most of my patients making is not applying sunscreen every day, all year round. For some reason, many people just can’t get into the habit of doing this when it’s cold outside or the weather isn’t nice.” It’s a good idea to use products such as moisturizers, anti-aging creams, etc, that have SPF in them, so you have a little extra protection even on the days you forget to lather up.

Parks adds, “Using products with SPF in them will give you a little extra protection, but sunscreen is always the most important and the best protector.”

Carry sunscreen everywhere

Make it easy for yourself to remember to wear sunscreen. Or, make it easy to apply anytime you forget. Keep a bottle of sunscreen at home, in your car, at the office, and you can even throw some little samples in your purse. This way, you’re always prepared and you’ll ensure your skin is always protected.

Get new sunscreen every summer

Even if your sunscreen isn’t yet expired, it’s a good idea to get a new bottle at the beginning and end of every summer. “Sunscreen can lose its effectiveness if it sits out in the heat for a long period of time,” Parks remarks. “Since this tends to happen all the time in the summer, I always recommend that my patients buy a new, fresh sunscreen both before the summer starts and then again when it ends. This way, they can ensure they’re using something that is working properly and effectively.”

Wear sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy

As we mentioned earlier, many people tend to forget to apply sunscreen when it’s not hot and sunny outside. The sun’s rays are harmful all year round, and you should get in the habit of applying sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of the weather or the season. This will not only keep you looking younger for longer, it will also protect you against skin cancer.

Know if your medicines will make you sensitive to the sun

There are certain medications that will make your skin sensitive to the sun. It’s important to be aware of the medicines you’re taking and even other products you’re using on your skin. If they’re known to increase sensitivity to the sun, be sure to always wear and reapply sunscreen, and cover up with a hat, sunglasses, and sleeves when you’re outside.

Examine your skin regularly

One reason that skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer is because it can be the most easily recognizable. You should be doing self-checks of all your freckles and moles on a monthly basis, and if you see any spots or moles that look out of the ordinary, be sure to make an appointment to see your dermatologist right away. Learn the ABCDEs of Melanoma. These characteristics are used by dermatologists to classify melanomas. Look for these signs: Asymmetry, irregular Borders, more than one or uneven distribution of Color, or a large (greater than 6mm) Diameter, which is the size of a pencil eraser, and E is for evolving, meaning that the mole is changing.

Dr Alan J. Parks is a board certified in dermatologist and founder of Parks is a recipient of the American Academy of Dermatology Community Service Award for skin cancer screening and the Edmund D. Lowney Teaching Award for teaching dermatology residents.