Local health expert shares tips for summer sun safety

It is important to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors to let it "soak in." (File)

June is Summer Safety Month, and with the season comes plenty of sunshine.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Cheryl Lummis about the importance of sunburn prevention.

"The best way to avoid sunburn is obviously to wear sunscreen; however, the majority of people don't wear sunscreen or they don't wear it properly," Lummis said.

She said sunscreen can be an easy fix for preventing sunburn- but only if applied correctly. "You should use at least a handful of sunscreen all over your body, many people just slather it wherever they can reach," Lummis said.

Her suggestions for this summer:

  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you head outside.
  • Reapply every two hours.
  • Reapply immediately after getting wet.
  • Make sure to pay attention to your face and hard to reach areas when applying sunscreen.
  • Make sure your sunscreen isn't more than a month past its expiration date.

Lummis said she knows all too well the consequences of too many sunburns. "Sunburns can cause cancer. I work in oncology, so every day, I see life and death. People think skin cancer isn't going to kill them. However, it's cancer. Regardless of what kind of cancer you have, there's always that potential of it being deadly," she said.

Too much sun exposure doesn't just up your risk for cancer. According to Lummis, it can also mean long-term skin damage.

"I just look at myself sometimes, and think, 'I can see the damage I've done,' and how important it is to protect my skin," she said. "You know, I have boys, and they don't think about sunscreen - and I'm already seeing the results of that on them."

This summer, Lummis is encouraging parents to think of sunscreen just like any other injury or illness prevention method.

"It's a safety precaution - and as a parent, that's what we all need to do is take care of our kids," she said. "We're not going to let them play in traffic, we're not going to let them swim without floaties, they need to have their sunscreen."

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First segment - we'll talk with a physician about how to keep your kids safe around pools and lakes this summer.

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