Findings from the Skin Cancer Foundation show that one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
That’s a scary statistic – and one that makes it incredibly important to establish a trusting relationship with your dermatologist. There are various types of skin cancer but the majority of the deadliest kinds are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure.
The good news is that preventing skin cancer is largely in our control. Fight back against skin cancer in the following five ways:
- Avoid tanning. Getting a tan is a result of sun damage to your skin and is directly correlated to increased risk of skin cancer, whether it’s from the sun or a tanning bed. There are lots of harmless self tanners that can be applied through topical lotions and sprays to give you the bronzed look you may desire.
- Always use sunscreen. We hear this a lot but it may not sink in as to how important this is. Here are some tips for sunscreen use:
- Use “Broad Spectrum” SPF 30 or stronger. “Broad Spectrum’ means that it protects from all of the sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun and reapply every two hours. Consider reapplying even more frequently if you’re in water or sweating a lot.
- Keep in mind that the sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays go right through the clouds, so be sure to use protection even on cloudy days.
- Make sure to cover your entire body with sunscreen on days when you will be in the sun for extended time.
- Bring the right gear. Clothes will help block the sun’s UV rays; however, those light summer clothes may not protect as much as we would hope. Consider looking for clothing lines with built-in SPF. Also, you can wear a hat with a brim bigger than 3 inches to protect your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes. You may even want to carry an umbrella as a portable shader.
- Spot the shade. There are lots of shady spots you can pick if you need to be outside for extended time. Keep in mind that the sun’s prime time is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so stick to the shade as much as possible in that time frame.
- Get regular check-ups. Visit your dermatologist every year and do monthly head-to-toe self exams at home. Skin cancers that are detected and removed early are almost always curable.
May is the official month of Skin Cancer/ Melanoma detection and prevention.
The Skin Cancer Foundation uses this opportunity to build awareness about the dangers of the sun and tanning in hopes of reducing the effect of this lifestyle disease. Protecting yourself and your family could keep you all skin cancer-free for life.
Stay smart out there!