Many people are unaware that skin cancer can strike with or without dramatic changes to the skin. Others incorrectly assume that it only affects older people or that it cannot affect children or teens. It is good to know that skin cancer is preventable and being aware of the risks can help you change your sun habits for the better to avoid getting skin cancer.
While we need small amounts of sun exposure to create necessities such as Vitamin D and nitric oxide, too much UV exposure can lead to malignant changes in the skin. While the World Health Organization says that skin cancer rates are rising, this can be changed by changing your habits.
The UV exposure is a preventable factor in skin cancer but you can put yourself in control to prevent it. Be aware that a single blistering sunburn in your childhood can double your risk of getting skin cancer.
You can dress to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. A wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, pants, sunglasses, and sunscreen will protect your skin. There are many clothing choices and swimwear with sun protection built-in. Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is important. It is important to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after you have been sweating or swimming.
There are many types of sunscreen available that allow you to protect your skin. Everything from zinc oxide and invisible sunscreens to powders and makeup that contains sunscreen can limit UV exposure. Clothes with SPF built in are gaining popularity and are easy to use to limit sun exposure without the hassle of applying and reapplying sunscreens over large areas of your body.
You can also avoid the strongest sun typically between 10 and 4. Gardening, swimming, play time, BBQ’s, etc., can be scheduled for later or earlier in the day so that you and your friends and family are not subject to the strongest rays of the sun. The best choice is to get some shade or go indoors between 10 and 4.
Knowing whether your family members have had skin cancer is also important. Understanding your personal risk related to your own skin cancer history is also critical. If you have had two or more melanomas then you are at higher risk for skin cancer. Those with fair skin and natural red or blond hair need to be particularly careful as well.
It is very important to know that all skin types and colours are at risk of skin cancer. Darker skinned people have worse outcomes due in part to an erroneous belief that they are not likely to skin cancer but no skin colour is spared from this disease. The American Academy of Dermatology states “Skin cancer in patients with skin of colour is often diagnosed in its later stages when it’s more difficult to treat.”
Using sunscreen regularly, limiting your sun exposure, avoiding tanning beds and not tanning in the sun are easy ways to lower your skin cancer risk. Mole checks are important for those considered to be at higher risk such as people who have experienced any blistering sunburns in childhood or during their teens. If you see new moles, a sore or sores that do not heal, irregularly shaped moles, changes in existing moles, etc., call Sun Doctors for help.
Being aware of how much sun exposure you are getting is very important. Even the sun you get through car windows, windows at home or the office counts. Maybe you have an extended walk to the mailbox or your children’s bus stop. Remember to take the steps needed to protect your skin daily and ensure that you get regular mole checks to lower your risk.