Summer is almost upon us – nearly time for pool parties, barbecues, and beach vacations. Unfortunately, summer activities typically involve heightened sun exposure, raising the risk of sun damage
and skin cancer
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The condition is an abnormal growth of skin cells, frequently triggered by long-term heavy sun exposure, though a family history of skin cancer can heighten your risk.
The predominant types of skin cancer are the following:
- Basal cell carcinoma: The most common type of skin cancer. It generally presents as a raised pink, red, or white patch on the skin.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This condition is the next most common type of skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinomas are typically scaly, crusted patches on the skin.
- Melanoma: The rarest and most dangerous type of skin cancer. Melanomas generally appear as dark, irregular spots on the skin.
Taking preventive steps can help lower your risk. To protect yourself from skin cancer, incorporate the following tips into your summer routine.
1. Enjoy the sun in the early morning or late afternoon.
Limit your exposure to the sun by avoiding the sun between 10am and 4pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
2. The more sunscreen, the better!
Wear sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and make sure to reapply it every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating.
3. Wear UPF-rated clothing.
If you can’t wear full-body sunscreen, wear clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating. This rating measures the amount of ultraviolet light that is able to penetrate a garment. A UPF of 50+ offers the best protection. Make sure to cover up with light-colored, loose-fitting clothes such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
4. Don’t forget to protect those peepers!
The eyes are just as vulnerable to sun damage and even cancer as the skin. Wear UVA and UVB protective sunglasses. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
5. Avoid artificial tanning beds.
The radiation from tanning beds is just as dangerous as sun exposure. Tanning beds and sunlamps emit strong UV rays that can increase your risk of skin cancer.
6. Seek high-quality shade.
While all shade provides some protection from the sun, dense tree covers and walled structures offer superior coverage to single trees and sun umbrellas.
7. Be extra vigilant at the beach.
White sand and water reflect the damaging rays of the sun more efficiently than grassy areas or parks with dark pavement. Reapply sunscreen every two hours to avoid burning and sun damage.
8. Don’t forget your lips!
Your lips are just as susceptible to cancer and sun damage as the rest of your face. Make sure you use a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher, reapply it every few hours, and always reapply directly after eating or drinking.
9. Check the UV index before heading out.
The UV index is a measure of UV radiation that is unrelated to the weather. The higher the number, the greater the UV exposure. When the UV index is high – a score of 8 or higher – take extra precautions. If you burn easily or are at high risk for skin cancer, consider staying indoors.
10. Get regular skin checks!
Schedule regular skin checks with a qualified dermatologist every year. You should also perform self-examinations regularly for any changes.
The best way to avoid skin cancer is to stay proactive about sun protection. If you have any concerns about your skin health or if you have noticed any changes to your skin, please don’t hesitate to schedule a skin check with us.