A man walks proudly across a sunny sky with protective clothing and a giant bottle of sunscreen over his shoulder.

Staying Safe Without Staying Indoors: Tips And Tricks

The safest solution to living with melanoma is to simply stay indoors and avoid sunlight altogether, but living in fear is no way to live. I’ve always loved the outdoors and I wasn’t about to let melanoma take that away from me. Nor should you. Here are some habits, tips, and tricks that have become a regular part of my life. They help decrease the stress and risks associated with doing the things I love outdoors:

Tips for skin cancer prevention while enjoying the outdoors

1. Always have sunscreen. If you are down to your last bottle of sunscreen, order more immediately. I can’t tell you how many times I was late for events because I had to stop at the grocery store to grab more sunscreen, only adding more stress to my life. Always having some on hand is unbelievably helpful in many ways.

2. Share your story with your friends and family. You’d be surprised how supportive they can be. I recently went to meet up with a group of friends at a brewery and they went out of their way to get the only table in the shade. Small things like that can make a huge difference in helping you feel comfortable and less fearful while outdoors.

3. Seek shade whenever possible! If you’re chatting with someone outside, don’t be afraid to ask them if you can take the conversation to a shadier spot. If you’re at an outdoor event, don’t be afraid to go a little further back to stay in the shade even if it means being a little further away from the action.

4. Learn to love hats. I’m bald so I probably love hats more than most, but wearing a hat – especially one with a wide brim to cover your ears, is one of the easiest ways to create your own shade. And if you love sports and exercising like I do, always keep two hats on hand. One for any time you’re expecting to sweat a lot, and one that you can always keep clean, leaving you no excuses to ever go out without one. Always keep two!

5. Invest in UPF 50+ clothing.UPF is the same rating system as SPF but for fabrics. Most clothing has some level of UV protection, but not nearly enough. UPF clothing will ensure you are getting the UV protection you need. Below is the UPF starter kit I’d recommend for anyone that wants to start taking their skin health seriously:

  • A lightweight long sleeve shirt – especially if you live in the South.
  • An arm sleeve you can keep in your car. Slip it on anytime the sun is beaming on you through your car window.
  • A neck gaiter / bandana. It’s a very easy way to keep your neck, ears, face, and head protected (depending how you wear it). I have a few and keep one in the car at all times similar to my arm sleeve.
  • A lightweight bucket hat to keep the head and ears covered.
  • UV rated sunglasses –your eyes are susceptible to UV damage as well.

6. Make sure you apply your sunscreen at least 20 minutes in advance. (If it’s chemical-based) and set an alarm for 2 hours to make sure you reapply before it loses its effectiveness. That timeframe is even shorter if you’re swimming or sweating. I personally prefer chemical-based sunscreens, but I recommend you do your own research before deciding what’s best for you.

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