16 May Preventing skin cancer
As summer approaches, it’s time once again for a reminder about protecting exposed skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Make no mistake, even a light tan, or what you might think of as a “healthy glow,” is sun damage.
Being sun safe means being sun smart.
- Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher to help protect your skin and prevent skin cancer. Yes, even on cloudy days you need to protect all exposed skin.
- Wear long sleeves and pants to minimize exposure and don’t forget a hat and sunglasses.
- If you have to be outside, stay under an umbrella or a shady tree.
- Avoid the strongest rays between mid morning and mid afternoon.
- Re-apply sunscreen every two hours and liberally to ensure continuous protection throughout the day. Studies suggest most people don’t apply nearly enough for proper protection.
Skin cancer doesn’t just happen to older adults. Although it generally appears after age 50, people much younger can develop it as well. Having fair skin, a history of sunburns, excessive sun exposure, sunny climates and skin moles play a role in skin cancer, but everyone is at risk.
One blistering sunburn doubles your risk of melanoma. Get an annual skin exam from a health professional and perform a self-examination every month to detect early warning signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include a change on the skin, including a small growth; a sore that bleeds, crusts over, heals and then reopens; or a change in an existing mole or the development of a new mole.