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How the Outdoorsman Can Avoid Sunburn and Skin Cancer

Another outdoor sports season is upon us and whether you are stepping outside for a quick one-on-one basketball game, spending a few days fishing, or hiking, there are things you need to remember when spending prolonged time outdoors.

“Austin is all about the outdoors and outdoor lifestyle, especially with the biking, Town Lake, trails and all the fishing, hunting so close by” claims Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board-certified Dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. “But it is necessary to remember the importance of protecting your skin.” 

Let’s face it. It isn’t really anyone’s favorite task before heading outside, but it is a very crucial step in the process of saving your skin from major issues including skin cancer, severe burns, and an expedited aging of the skin. It is important  to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you plan on being outside, and to REAPPLY. A thorough lathering at 9 AM is not going to get you through until 7 PM. It is suggested that you reapply sunscreen multiple times throughout your day, especially if interacting with water or when sweating heavily, as it weakens the effects of the sunscreen.

“The truth is,” says Dr. Mamelak, “I have yet to meet a guy that likes to put cream on their body! Women will do it all the time, with lotions or moisturizers, but guys struggle with this.”

It is for this reason Dr. Mamelak recommends spray sunscreens for men. “Guys seem to tolerate this more, and will actually use it.” Applying the right amount is one problem with spray on sunscreens, but Dr. Mamelak advises a double coating will likely give you the protection you need. “Spray it on, then coat yourself again.” Spray sunscreens are also great for kids that won’t stand still long enough to get the lotion on.

Your lips
They need sunscreen too! We aren’t asking you to rub Coppertone are you lips, but it is important to keep a chap stick that contains SPF, to avoid dry peeling lips, and also to save you from burning them. Sunburn on your lips isn’t something that you want to have to experience, especially when knowing that all eating and drinking must go past those lips. Save yourself the major pain and carry a stick with you on your adventures.

“Skin cancers can develop on the lips and, interestingly, these are often considered more aggressive that cancers that come up on other parts of the body,” explains Dr. Mamelak
Water is key for men who are playing sports or participating in outdoor activity. “You lose a lot of your hydration while sweating during outdoor activities,” Dr. Mamelak comments. Lack of hydration is something that has more effects than you would expect, and dry lips are only the more superficial effect. Dry and sallow skin, as well as potential for passing out and heat stroke are all symptoms of neglecting to drink water. It may not be too hot yet, but the sun can creep up on you if you aren’t prepared for it. Make sure that you are staying hydrated, so as to keep you and your skin healthy.

Other items to take into consideration are wearing clothing that is light, but covers skin, so as to avoid direct sun exposure, which includes cotton clothing and hats that block sun from the face. “You can actually by clothing with a U.P.F. rating,” says Dr. Mamelak. “This UV Protective Factor works similar to sunscreen – it let’s you know how much protection you have from the sun.”

Little changes, like the ones above, are crucial for your safety. Being aware of your body and surroundings are things that can change and save your life.


At Sanova Dermatology, we use state of the art technology and techniques to provide the best care possible. Contact us if you would like to know more about diagnosis and treatment options for skin cancers or any other skin condition.

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