ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If you live in New Mexico, you know summers can get pretty hot so you’ll want to be extra cautious out in the sun.
Whether you’re fishing, walking, biking or just playing, you’re out in the sun. While some sun time has its benefits, too much of it can have its risks.
“We know that overwhelmingly the sun or ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer,” dermatologist John Durkin said.
Skin cancer isn’t the only risk you run with overexposure to the sun, either.
“The sun is the number one cause of damage to the skin. It causes things like sun spots, brown spots on the skin, or premature wrinkling. It can cause aging of the skin and it can cause thinning of the skin,” Durkin said.
Whether you’re in the shade or directly in the sun, doctors say you shouldn’t leave your house without your sunscreen.
“We recommend any kind of sunscreen but really an SPF. That number on the bottle should be 50 or higher,” Durkin said.
One important thing about sunscreen is you should reapply it. You should especially do that if you’re going to be swimming or sweating a lot.
You can also protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants, or hats – or just avoid going outside during peak hours.
“Anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when the sun is strongest. If you can avoid doing activities during that time, it’s better,” Durkin explained.
You also want to make sure you’re paying attention to any moles changing in color or size. You’ll also want to look for any abnormalities in the skin. That can be an early indication of skin cancer.
“We do have a pretty big shortage of dermatologists in the state so people can experience wait times of months or up to over a year to get in to see a dermatologist. We really recommend that you first get in with your primary care doctor if you have a concern,” Durkin said.
Exposure to the sun isn’t just exclusive to summertime. It’s also recommended you wear sunscreen year-round, especially on the face and other constantly-exposed places.