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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:

Be sun safe during cancer treatment

1. Direct sunlight

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. Sun-protective clothing

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. Radiation therapy

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. Sunscreen strength

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. Sunscreen application

Reapply sunscreen often--every two hours or every hour to any area that is getting wet.

6. Lip balm sunscreen

Use SPF 15 or higher lip balm. You can also rub a bit of standard sunscreen on your lips to protect them.

7. Tanning beds

Do not use a tanning bed. Tanning beds expose you to harmful rays. Often this type of UV light is stronger and can cause more damage in less time than UV rays from the sun.

Learn more about skin care during radiation and chemotherapy.

Cancer touches all of us.