by Dr. Palceski, board certified dermatologist, Reflections Dermatology & Center for Skin Care
Did you know that skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer in the United States? Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Here are some tips for helping you protect your family and sun safely.
Seek the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm when the sun is strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.
Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in their life.
Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds. UV radiation from tanning beds has been proven to cause skin cancer. In fact, indoor UV tanners are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
Cover up by wearing protective clothing. This should include a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing that is densely woven and dark in color provides the best level of protection against the harmful UV rays of the sun. The more skin you cover, the better, so choose long sleeves and long pants whenever possible.
Use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 20 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. One six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should provide two full days of sun protection for prolonged outdoor activity.
Keep newborns out of the sun since their skin is extremely vulnerable. Sunscreens may be safely used on babies over the age of 6 months with several chemical-free options available. Children are especially sensitive to ultraviolet radiation. Just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chance of developing melanoma later in life.
Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams shouldn’t replace an annual skin exam performed by a dermatologist, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you see a spot and see that spot change, call your dermatologist right away. For more information on how to perform a monthly self-exam visit http://www.SkinCancer.org/selfexamination.
Schedule your annual skin exam in May and start a new habit that just might save your life!