In the United States, skin cancer is the most common cancer where 1 in 5 Americans will develop it by the age of 70. Skin cancer develops when skin is over-exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, but can also develop from tanning beds and sun lamps. However, it’s also one of the most preventable types of cancer. By following these tips, you can reduce your risk drastically.
Between the hours of 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., the sun’s rays are at their strongest. One way to check this is if your shadow is shorter than you, the UV’s are likely at its peak. If you do not need to be outside during that time, stay indoors or find a shaded area.
No one likes the pain and appearance of a red sunburn, but it also is your skin trying to tell you something. A sunburn means your skin is damaged, and while aftercare will help treat the short term effects, it could lead to long term effects like developing a skin cancer. If you plan on being outside for a long stretch of hours, use sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher, to protect your skin (and to avoid a pesky sunburn, too!). For continual protection, reapply every two hours.
Wear The Right Clothing
If you’re planning an afternoon full of activity, like gardening or playing a recreational sport, your skin will likely be exposed for a few hours. In that case, make sure you are wearing protective clothing, such as:
- Long shirt
- Closed toe shoes
- A wide-brimmed hat
Examine Your Skin
The best way to prevent a progressing disease, like cancer, is to routinely perform self-examinations. For skin cancer, it is recommended to do a full body self-examination once a month with a full body mirror and a bright light. Here’s where to how to do a thorough check:
- Start with your face and pay close attention to your nose, lips, mouth and ears.
- Check your scalp by using a blow dryer and a mirror and looking at the skin underneath your hair.
- Look at your palms, fingers and fingernails.
- Inspect your elbows, upper arms and underarms.
- Check your chest, neck and torso,
- With a hand mirror and a full body mirror, look at the back of your neck and your back.
- Lastly, check your legs front and back, genitals, feet and toenails.
When to Visit a Doctor
When conducting this self exam, look for any asymmetrical dark spots on your skin, as this could be a sign of a melanoma. Particularly, look around any moles or larger freckles and examine if they have changed in shape. If you are noticing any changes in your skin’s appearance, start with talking with one of our healthcare providers. We can conduct examinations, and have the resources to refer you to a specialist if necessary.