Skin cancer is the most diagnosed type of cancer. Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure can permanently damage the skin and lead to skin cancer, but you need sunlight too, so how can you stay safe? There are simple steps you can take like protecting yourself outside and examining your skin between doctor’s visits to prevent skin cancer.
Protect Your Skin
Getting some sunlight every day is good for you! Over-exposure to UV rays can be harmful to your skin, so pay attention to how much time you spend out in the sun. The sun’s rays are strongest in the middle of the day (between 10 am and 4 pm) and in the spring and summer months, but they are always present so it’s best to keep your skin covered as much as possible.
Long-sleeved clothing and wide-brim hats help protect your face and skin, and sunglasses with UV protection shield your eyes. There is a lot of clothing that is made to be lightweight and still protect you from UV rays so you can be comfortable. Water, snow, and sand reflect and intensify the sun rays, increasing your chances of sunburn. Be extra cautious around these elements and practice appropriate skincare.
Apply and reapply
Applying sunscreen is so important when you are spending time outside. Broad-spectrum sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays to help protect your skin. Sunscreen should be applied liberally and reapplied every two hours to be effective. Using lip balm with UV protection on your lips also helps protect some of your most delicate skin.
Examine Yourself – What to look for
Most people have some moles and spots on their skin, so you should see your dermatologist at least once a year for an exam. It’s also important to examine yourself regularly in between appointments to pick up on any changes in your skin or existing moles.
The American Academy of Dermatology has developed a guide for assessing moles and spots on your skin. It’s called the ABCDE guide, which stands for:
- Asymmetry – look for moles that don’t match themselves, where one half is different from the other half in size, shape, or color.
- Border – if the edges of a mole are irregular or poorly defined, have it inspected by a dermatologist.
- Color – look for moles that are uneven or are not the same color throughout.
- Diameter – pay attention to growing moles.
- Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that is different from your others, or changes in size, shape, or color should raise alarm.
If you notice changes or abnormalities in your skin, see your dermatologist right away. Even when you apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing, you should limit your time in the sunlight to help prevent skin cancer.