May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. In an effort to keep you cancer-free and focused on healthy skin, here are some tips on how to prevent skin cancer:
1. Use sunscreen. Anytime you are outside – even if it’s cloudy – apply sunscreen to all of your skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply frequently – about every 2 hours or so – or after swimming or sweating. It is important to make sure you are using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30. Some common areas that people forget about are the top of your feet, your neck, ears, lips, and the top of your head (the parting line, or receding hair lines and bald spots for men).
2. Find shade. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
3. Wear the proper clothing. If you know you are going to be out in the sun – especially for an extended period of time – wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
4. Be mindful of the elements. Use extra caution near water, sand, or snow, as they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
5. Vitamin D. You can still get Vitamin D without the sun! Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in Vitamin D, or take Vitamin D supplements.
Although a natural tan might look beautiful to most, it is truly a sign that your skin has been injured. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer.
If you want to look tan still:
•DO NOT use a tanning bed. UV light from tanning beds can cause wrinkling, age spots, and lead to skin cancer.
•DO consider using a self-tanning product or a spray tan, but continue to use sunscreen with it when outdoors.
•DO continue to check your skin for signs of cancer. Consistently checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
If you spot anything changing, growing, or bleeding, see your dermatologist immediately!