Each day, approximately 9,500 women, men, and even some children are diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States. Skin cancer is, in fact, more common than any other type of cancer. It’s also one of the few cancers that you can easily see.
Even though skin cancer is highly visible and quite common, it often slips by unnoticed in its earliest, most curable, stages. The most important part of that sentence is the word curable. Unlike many other types of cancers, many skin cancers can be cured when caught in time.
As part of May’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month program, our expert team of dermatologists at Specialists in Dermatology wants you and your loved ones to become more aware of skin cancer — and how to prevent it. We’ve assembled this guide to help you keep your skin safe.
Please pass on the link to everyone you know, so we can begin to reduce the numbers of people who suffer from skin cancer. Probably because of increased awareness, cases of the deadly skin cancer melanoma cases have declined in patients aged 30 and younger.
Ban tanning beds
If you’re addicted to a sun-kissed look and think you can achieve it more safely at a tanning salon than at a beach, you are — unfortunately — wrong. The ultraviolet (UV) rays in a tanning bed are just as damaging and dangerous as those from the sun.
How much higher is your risk if you tan your skin at the spa? Just one indoor tanning session before the age of 35 raises your risk for life-threatening melanoma by 75%. Tanning beds also prematurely age your skin, increasing your incidence of wrinkling, sagging, and brown spots.
Limit sun exposure
The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are the strongest and most damaging when the sun is highest in the sky. That’s why you should limit your exposure to the sun during the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm.
Even a single blistering sunburn in your childhood or teen years makes you more than twice as likely to develop a potentially deadly melanoma. Each sunburn you have — whether it’s a blistering one or just a reddening or peeling one — increases your risk for all skin cancers.
Also, it’s important to realize that you can burn on cloudy days, too. Clouds reflect UVA and UVB rays, which can increase your risk for a burn.
Dress like a Victorian
If you look back at the early part of the 20th century and for most of history before that, you notice that our ancestors knew how to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays. Even though they didn’t have sunscreen, they used their clothing to minimize sun exposure.
Although you don’t have to wear feather-topped hats or vests with fobs, you can protect yourself with today’s fashions, too. When you step outdoors, be sure to wear a:
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Long-sleeved jacket or shirt
- Long pants
- Long skirt
Add a pair of sunglasses to complete your outfit. You’ll look as cool as an A-list star, but also protect your eyes from sun damage. Be sure to only wear sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB light.
Fall in love with safe sunscreen
The idea of applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor of SPF 30 or more may not sound like an enticing addition to your skincare routine. But high-quality sunscreens created with medical-grade ingredients not only protect your skin, but they also improve its quality.
At Specialists in Dermatology, we offer sunscreens from top dermatologic brands, such as:
If you wear cosmetics, we recommend tinted sunscreens and SPF powders to keep your skin beautiful, radiant, and safe. We help you choose the products that are best for your skin type and needs, too.
Monitor your moles
Moles that evolve in their shape, size, or color as well as new lesions that suddenly appear on your skin may be a sign of skin cancer. Inspect your skin every single month.
Use a mirror to check areas that aren’t easily seen, such as your scalp, behind your neck and behind your ears. Include spots that never (or rarely) see the sun’s rays, including the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.
Book an annual skin cancer screening. A dermatologist is highly trained to spot the earliest signs of skin cancer. If they see a troublesome lesion on your skin, they immediately remove it and may recommend further treatment options, too.
Make May the month in which you adopt skin cancer prevention steps into your everyday routine. Contact us now at the location nearest you if you have a new or changing mole, you’d like to book a skin cancer screening, or you want medical-grade, safe sunscreens.