Spring and summer are exciting seasons, especially when winter seems to drag on forever. The air becomes warmer and everyone enjoys outdoor activities. Naturally, your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. This can result in a greater risk of skin damage, including skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in the U.S, with over 5 million nonmelanoma cases treated every year. The good news is that skin cancer is largely preventable. Here are the top five tips to help you keep your skin healthy and free from cancer.
What is Skin Cancer & How to Recognize It
Skin cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably on the outermost layer of the skin. It can be caused by the sun’s UV rays or exposure to harmful chemicals. There are three types of skin cancer:
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma
This is the most common type of skin cancer. This type is associated with red or pink bumps on the skin. It can also look like a shiny bump or a sore that doesn’t heal.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Looks like a red or brown lesion on the skin but can also be scaly or crusty and might bleed easily. It is the second most common form of skin cancer.
The most serious as it can spread to other parts of your body if left untreated. It presents as a black or brown mole on the skin. It can also look like a lesion with uneven borders or one that’s larger than normal.
Luckily, most skin cancers are preventable. Below we have discussed a few safety tips;
How to Keep Your Skin Safe?
Lather on the Sunscreen
Research studies have established a link between the sun’s UV rays and several types of skin cancer. UV type A wavelengths generate free radicals that damage skin cells. The first line of defense against these harmful UV rays is sunscreen. This is a broad-spectrum product that filters out both UVA and UVB rays. They come in multiple forms, including lotions, sprays, and gels.
The best sunscreens contain at least SPF 15, but most dermatologists recommend higher levels for optimal protection. A higher SPF number means more protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. If you plan to be outdoors all day long, consider applying sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if sweating heavily or swimming. And put some on children above six months to keep their delicate skin healthy.
Stay in the Shade
If you’re outside for a long time, try to stay in the shade whenever possible. Find a tree or building to stand under if you don’t have an umbrella.
When walking outside, wear clothing that covers your skin as much as possible. If you have to be in the sun, wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your face, neck, and ears. You can also buy special sunglasses that block UV rays from reaching your eyes or skin.
Avoid Tanning Beds
UV radiation from indoor tanning beds is classified as a group 1 carcinogen. This falls under the same category as asbestos and tobacco. They use UV technology to darken the skin, which is believed to be responsible for nearly 70% of all cases of skin cancer each year in the US.
It might be hard to resist the temptation to hop into a tanning bed for just a few minutes. But it’s best to avoid indoor tanning at all costs. And if you have to use one, use sunscreen with a high SPF.
Schedule Regular Skin Checks
The best way to fight it is to catch it early. You should inspect your skin for any changes regularly. If you notice anything suspicious, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
- Itchy, discolored patches that persist after a few weeks and slowly progress over months.
- Moles on the skin that change in size, color, or feel.
- Painful lesions with irregular borders
- Lumps and bumps that suddenly appear on the skin
Know Your Family History
Does cancer run in your family? You must understand where you stand genetically. If you have a history of skin cancer in the family, it’s important to check yourself for any changes. People with a first-degree relative treated previously for melanoma have a 50% greater likelihood of developing skin cancer.
Let Radiant Dermatology Help You
Skin cancer is a serious disease that can affect anyone. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays. When outside, try to stay in the shade as much as possible or wear clothing that covers most skin. If you have to be out in the sun, protect your skin with sunscreen higher than SPF 15. And schedule regular skin screenings. For more information on how to keep your skin cancer-free, relieve cancer pain, and seek preventative measures, the team at Radiant Dermatology can help.