In honor of National Cancer Prevention Month, let’s talk about skin cancer, the most common type in the world. More people get skin cancer than any other type of cancer. If you live to 70, there’s a one-in-five chance you’ll develop skin cancer. So how do you prevent it? How do you make sure you’re one of the 4 in 5 people who will NOT develop skin cancer?
Skin Cancer is Preventable
The most important thing to know about skin cancer is….drum roll… it’s PREVENTABLE. That’s because approximately 88 percent of skin cancer cases are linked to sun exposure (and sun exposure is something you have some control over). The key is to pick up some healthy skin care habits– preferably at a young age–and continue them as you grow older.
Healthy Skin Care Habits
You can protect yourself from the sun by following healthy skin care habits, such as limiting your sun exposure. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology Association also recommends that you seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing, and apply sunscreen.
It’s vital to seek shade during the time when the sun’s rays are most intense. Generally, peak sun hours are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Wear Sun-Protective Clothing
Protective clothing on hot, sunny days when you’re dripping sweat can be as simple as wearing a loose, breathable cotton or linen long-sleeve shirt while you’re in the sun.
And applying sunscreen means you put it onto all sun-exposed skin (face and body) 15 minutes before you go outside. Remember that sunscreen wears off and loses its effectiveness over the day, so it’s best to regularly reapply, especially when you’re swimming or under intense sun rays.
Other Ways To Protect Yourself
In addition to the tips listed above, there are many other ways to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. These include wearing a hat and sunglasses, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, protecting your lips, staying away from tanning beds, avoiding sunbathing, using sunscreen pills, and getting an annual skin check-up.
Wear a Hat (And Sunglasses, Too)
Broad-brimmed hats protect your face and neck from intense rays that could otherwise damage your skin. The same is true of sunglasses, which protect your eyes from harmful UVA / UVB rays.
Use a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen
A broad-spectrum sunscreen will give you maximum protection from skin cancer. Make sure to buy and use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
Protect Your Lips
The delicate skin on your lips is susceptible to lip cancer. Protect yourself with lipstick, chapstick, or lip balm with SPF.
Stay Away From Tanning Beds
Using a tanning bed one time when you’re young can raise your risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. The Skin Cancer Foundation calls tanning beds “dangerous”. Each time you tan this way, the sun damage builds up and creates genetic mutations.
Although less dangerous than tanning beds, the sun’s rays are still harmful and increase your risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Most people prize a bronze glow to their skin, especially in the summertime. If this describes you, consider getting this glow from sunless tanning products like sprays and lotions.
Use Sunscreen Pills
There’s a pill for almost everything these days, and that includes sun protection. Sunscreen pills are an excellent way to get a little extra help for your skin. But they’re no substitute for conventional sunscreen, so make sure to use that too.
Get an Annual Skin Check-up
National Cancer Prevention Month reminds us that dermatologists recommend getting a professional skin check-up each year. This is a great time for you to ask questions and advice from your dermatologist. And it’s the perfect opportunity for your dermatologist to take a look at your spots and moles and determine if anything looks suspicious and needs treatment.
Ready to celebrate National Cancer Prevention Month? Book your annual skin check exam today! Call us at the Skin and Cancer Institute, where we’re prepared to help you begin your journey to healthier skin.