Your skin is the largest organ of the body, and the most susceptible to cancer. While skin protects us from injury, ask yourself – what are you doing to help prevent skin cancer? Your skin blocks your internal organs from harmful ultraviolet (UV rays), but often times it is at a dangerous cost to the skin itself. Over 3.5 million people have been diagnosed with skin cancer this past year, as it is the most common of all the cancers. Skin cancer is a dangerous reality.
It’s recommended that you perform self-exams monthly, as the best way to prevent skin cancer is to catch it in its earliest stages when it is most treatable. If you notice the following changes, contact your physician immediately.
- Any change in your skin (this could be any new moles, changes in any existing moles or any new growths)
- Any change to the texture of your skin ( rough or scaly patches, or textures that were previously non-existent)
- Spread of pigmentation (moles become discolored, or coloration spreads)
How Can You Prevent It?
Sunscreen is a great tool to carry with you, however it’s not enough. Remember, that if you are going to use sunscreen choose one with an SPF 15 or higher and apply daily. If you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended amount of time, be sure to use a water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and apply 1 oz. every 30 minutes. Here are more helpful tips to make sure you are protecting your skin as much as it protects you.
Made in the shade – The suns UV rays are highest between 10 AM and 4 PM. Avoid prolonged periods in the sun during these peak hours, and if you are out – remember to apply sunscreen every 20 minutes.
Sunburns are more harmful than you think – The number of sunburns a person gets in a lifetime has a direct effect on a skin cancer diagnosis. Be sure to be careful you don’t burn, and for those of us with pale skin this is especially important.
Sun kissed skin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – Tanning is one of the most harmful things we can do to our skin. Stay away from the tanning salons, and limit the time you stretch out in the sun.
Invest in sunglasses – Wraparound sunglasses are best for protecting your eyes – choose glasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption.
Be selective with your outerwear – Make sure that you bring a hat and cover your skin up as much as possible. Shirts of any kind help limit your exposure, and if you don’t want to wear a long sleeve shirt, you don’t have to. As long as you’re covered you’re helping prevent overexposure to the sun.
With summer here, we know that you’ll want to be out soaking up the sun. You can still exercise and enjoy the outdoors this spring and summer season – you just need to practice sun safety while you do it. Remember, the best way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid long exposure and be practical.