The number of skin cancers diagnosed on an annual basis is “rising rapidly,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. One death occurs from melanoma every 57 minutes, although basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are the most frequently occurring form of skin cancer. With some types of skin cancers being particularly dangerous, it is important to know how to prevent it. These five ways to prevent skin cancer may prevent you from developing skin cancer or one of the precursors that often lead to later skin cancer diagnosis.
Avoid Tanning and Burning
Both indoor and outdoor tanning can lead to skin cancer and should be avoided. When ultraviolet (UV) rays reach inner layers of the skin, the skin reacts by producing more melanin, the pigment that colors the skin. As it moves to outer layers of the skin, it produces a tan to the skin’s outer layer. Having a tan is not an indication of being healthy. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a tan is a response to the skin being injured by UV rays. Tanning is not just dangerous to older individuals. The younger a person starts tanning, there is a greater risk of developing skin cancer, particularly melanoma.
Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. If you suffer five or more sunburns, you double your risk of getting skin cancer. Prevent sunburn by wearing protective clothing and a hat, especially when in the sun for long periods. Make sure you and the kids wear a cover-up when at the beach. If you start to burn, get out of the sun.
Avoid the Sun at Peak Hours
The sun is strongest at midday, so avoid extended activity in the sun during the hours of 10am to 4pm. If you are outside, use an umbrella or seek a shady area.
It is important for adults and children to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from harmful rays. Look for shades that indicate they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing sunglasses protects you from eye melanoma. The cancer that develops in the melanin of the skin can actually cause melanoma of the eyes, called ocular melanoma.
Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours, after swimming or exercise that causes excessive sweating. Purchase sunscreen that is a minimum SPF 15, preferably higher.
Perform Monthly Skin Exams
Performing a monthly skin self exam can reduce the risk of skin cancer and lead to earlier diagnosis if you do have skin cancer. Perform the exam in front of the mirror for areas you cannot easily see. Look for discolored areas or changes in moles or freckles. Actinic Keratosis and some other types of precursor lesions can turn into cancer so it is imperative to see your doctor if you notice any new or changing suspicious lesions. Practicing preventative ways to prevent skin cancer and what to look for that may indicate skin cancer can lead to better skin health and less chance of suffering from skin cancer.