28 Dec Skin Cancer is 100% Preventable
Skin cancer is the most common of cancers, and melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. However, skin cancer is also completely preventable and Spectrum Dermatology can help you start protecting your skin correctly today. Even though the majority of sun damage occurs when we are children and adolescents, it’s never too late to adopt a better sun protection regimen. Education and knowledge are key, especially since there’s some wrong and outdated information out there.
If you had a burn that blistered when you were young, you’ve doubled your odds of developing melanoma. Catching skin cancer early is just as important as preventing it. The best way to do this is by scheduling an annual skin check. When caught early, all forms of skin cancer—including melanoma—are often treatable by a simple outpatient excision. You can avoid possible chemotherapy, radiation, and life-threatening stages of skin cancer simply by making and keeping this yearly appointment.
Guard Your Skin
Whenever possible, seek out shade. This can be done with a wide-brimmed hat, but staying indoors when possible and enjoying the outdoors underneath an eave or umbrella are also popular choices. You can also avoid the strongest UV rays by staying inside between the hours of 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. A good rule of thumb is that if your shadow is shorter than you, look for shade. Although sun damage is cumulative, meaning every second counts regardless of the time of day, the severity of the sun’s rays also plays a role. If you can avoid this daily four-hour window, you can go a long way in protecting your skin.
Choose your clothes wisely. There are all kinds of sun-protective clothing, some of them specially made for those who live in tropical areas or are outdoors during peak UV rays, but many clothes are also naturally protective. Seek out long sleeves and pants, sunglasses that include UV protection, and wide brimmed hats. During the summer months, it actually helps you to stay cooler when you cover your limbs with a light, loose fabric.
Sunscreen and sunblock are also important. However, they’re not all created equally. Your dermatologist can recommend the best sunscreen or sunblock for you depending on your lifestyle and any skin sensitivities. Any sunscreen you choose should be broad-spectrum, have an SPF of at least 30, and be water resistant. Only broad-spectrum sunscreens keep you safe from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be applied any time you go outside, no matter the weather or time of day (excepting when the sun has set, of course!). It should be applied liberally enough to cover all exposed skin, which means about one ounce for most adults (a shot glass size). Tops of the feet, neck, ears, top of the head, and right around the eyes should get special attention.
Sunscreen also needs to be reapplied every 75 minutes, or after swimming or sweating. Be particularly careful when you’re close to water, sand, and snow since these are all reflective surfaces. This increases the chance of a burn and makes the UV rays even more dangerous. Of course, it’s imperative to avoid tanning beds, which have the same UV rays as the sun. A self-tanner is perfectly okay, and you can apply sunscreen on top of these faux tans.
Take Care of the Skin You’re In
Skin cancer requires regular attention. This includes DIY care such as wearing sunscreen any time you go outside, even if it’s to quickly run to the store, and covering up when you can. Those annual skin checks will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re currently in the clear. Any suspicious moles or lesions can be quickly and painlessly biopsied to check for any cancerous cells.
As we get older, our chances of being diagnosed with skin cancer rises because of our cumulative exposure to UV rays over the years. Those with a lot of moles or freckles are especially prone to skin cancer, but anyone of any skin tone can develop it. To schedule your skin check, connect with Spectrum Dermatology today by calling 480-948-8400.