Ask anyone how to prevent skin cancer and the the first answer will (almost) always be the same. Young and old will say using sunscreen is the best way to prevent skin cancer, though there is much more to it than just that.
Time to dig a little deeper.
Even young children know they need to be lathered up with sunscreen when they are at the beach. Mom told them it’s important, but is that really the only time it’s needed? Not only should everyone wear sunscreen when sitting out in the sun for any length of time, but you should wear it every day on all exposed skin.
The dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun can damage your skin even with short exposure outdoors, in the car, and even on cloudy days. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, between 2009 and 2019 the number of invasive (penetrating the epidermis) melanoma cases diagnosed each year increased by 54%. Seems like we are not hearing the full message, or just ignoring it and rolling the dice. Here are a few other statistics to consider:
Scary stuff, but regular daily use of sunscreen with SPF 15 and above reduces the risk for skin cancer by 50%. Use it under makeup, or opt for makeup with SPF in it to skip that extra step.
When you expect to be outdoors for an extended time, it is best to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing and a large brimmed hat along with UV blocking sunglasses. Try to stay in the shade and avoid the sun when possible between 10 AM and 4 PM.
Be checked by a dermatologist at least once a year, and perform self exams for any new moles or changes in skin lesions on a regular basis. See a doctor at Weirton Medical as soon as possible if you notice any changes.
Tanning beds are a no-no. There are enough faux tanning products in the marketplace if you want to look tan; use them, but still continue to use sunscreen.
Your lips are one place on your body severely susceptible to UV rays. Keep them protected by wearing a lipstick or a lip balm with at least an SPF of 15 or higher every day. Don’t use glossy lipstick, as it will attract the sun. Be especially careful if you smoke, get frequent cold sores, or have a history of skin cancer since each of these factors will increase your risk.
One layer of sunscreen is good, but several layers are better. Always opt for a moisturizer infused with sunscreen to ensure that you are covered even when you may not be thinking about protecting your skin. This moisturizer can go over or under your regular sunscreen, foundation, and don’t forget the delicate area around your eyes.
Believe it or not, washing new cotton clothes several times before you wear them increases their protection against the sun. Even just a little shrinkage can help!
There are several misconceptions about the protection of the skin from sun damage, so here are a few facts that you should always remember:
You can still enjoy all your summertime activities, AND prevent skin cancer with just a few simple precautions.
Contact Weirton Medical for an annual skin cancer screening, or if you notice a suspicious or changing mole on your skin.