Did you know that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes? The bad news: Skin cancer is the most common cancer. The good news: You can prevent skin cancer through various forms of protection. Every year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer.
Four Good Reasons to Stay Safe While in the Sun
- Painful, Itchy Sunburn
- Risk of Sun Poisoning
- Risk of Premature Wrinkling
- Increased Chance of Skin Cancer, Melanoma
Steps for Prevention
Step 1. Always Wear Sunscreen When Going Outdoors.
Step 2. Choose the Right Sunscreen.
Choose a sunscreen that is labeled broad-spectrum to protect your skin from both types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. Make sure your sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or higher, this is the most common level for people of all skin types. While you are out in the sun, reapply sunscreen every two hours after activities that involve swimming, excessive sweating or toweling off.
Step 3. Utilize your Resources.
Use a combination of sun safety approaches for effective sun protection. Cover yourself with tightly woven clothing or a wide-brimmed hat, take a break in the shade, and schedule activities to avoid the sun during the most intense times of the day between 10:00 A.M. and 4 P.M.
Step 4. Avoid Indoor Tanning.
Even though we all love having a suntanned glow, it’s not worth it. Excessive exposure to UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma. Going to tanning beds before the age of 30 can increase a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75%.
Step 5. Regular Self-Examinations.
Early detection is key when it comes to protecting your skin from skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you do a head-to-toe self-examination of your skin every month, so you can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. If you have fair skin or you’ve spent lots of time in the sun, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor if you should get regular skin cancer screenings.
When doing your regular self-examinations be on the lookout for the ABCDEs. Be sure to schedule an appointment and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Not all skin cancers fit these rules, so it’s important to tell your doctor about any concerns, changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.
To check your risk of skin cancer, visit http://bit.ly/2QkApBO, and take the quiz.