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7 Tips for Sun Sensitivity During Cancer Treatment

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Woman wearing a large sun hat while working in her garden

Some treatments for cancer, like radiation and certain chemotherapy drugs, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. You can still enjoy summer days and outdoor activities by planning ahead to protect yourself from sunburn:

  1. Try to avoid direct sunlight. Stay in the shade as much as possible when outdoors, especially between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  2. Wear sun-protective clothing outdoors, including long pants or skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and a wide-brimmed hat. Read more about what clothing is best for protecting the skin.
  3. If you are getting radiation therapy, cover the treated areas of your skin when outdoors. If you aren’t sure where these areas are, ask your radiation therapy team.
  4. Apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body when outdoors. Don’t forget the back of your neck, tops of your feet, and ears.
  5. Reapply sunscreen often--every two hours or every hour to any area that is getting wet.
  6. Use SPF 15 or higher lip balm. You can also rub a bit a sunscreen on your lips to protect them.
  7. Do not use a tanning bed.

Learn more about skin care during radiation and chemotherapy.

Cancer touches all of us.