With summer just around the corner, it’s never to early to hit on the topic of skin cancer. The month of May is skin cancer awareness month, a month that aims to spread awareness and educate on ways to take care of your skin, especially as summer arrives. Summer is the perfect time for spending hours and hours in the sun whether you’re relaxing around the pool, boating on the river, or swimming in the ocean. The sun will find you wherever you may be. Sun exposure over the years can cause the skin to wrinkle, age spots, and even increase the risk for skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common types of cancer, in fact, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 1 in 5 Americans will be affected by skin cancer. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has become much more prevalent and cases have doubled from 1982 to 2011. Melanoma rates are higher in women than men, specifically in women ages 15-29. Sunburns during childhood may increase the risk of melanoma, therefore it’s important to protect children from the sun.
Skin cancer warning signs:
Changes in size, shape, or color of moles
Appearance of new growth on the skin
A sore that doesn’t heal
Spots on your skin that are different from others, changing, itching, or bleeding
If you have any of these signs, it’s important that you make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.
The sun is the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, which is the prime time for enjoying the outdoors. So, what can you do to be sure your skin is protected?
1. Wear sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF.
2. Be sure to not only apply it when you first go out, but reapply about every 2 hours. (Especially if you are swimming.)
3. Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, sun hats, or have a shady spot you can go.
1. Not reading the label. Not all sunscreens are the same. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for ones marked “broad- spectrum” and “water resistant.”
2. Not using enough. Many people don’t apply an adequate amount of sunscreen. Most adults need to apply about the amount to fill a shot glass (1 oz) to all skin that isn’t covered by clothing, 15 minutes before going outside.
3. Not applying it when cloudy. It’s cloudy out, you’ll be okay without sunscreen. FALSE. While the sun may not be out, the harmful UV rays can still penetrate your skin. It’s recommended to use sunscreen every time you’re outside, not just on sunny days.
4. Using old sunscreen. The FDA requirement for sunscreen is that they last at least 3 years. If you have old sunscreen, throw it away! If there is no expiration date and you are unsure, throw it out and buy new.
5. Sunscreen only! Many people believe that once they are coated in sunscreen they are fully protected. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, while sunscreen does a good job of protecting your skin, it’s also good to wear protective clothing to help cover your skin and protect from harmful rays.