This weekend is shaping up to be hot and sunny for most of the country. As summer weather takes over, you might find yourself spending more time in the sunshine. We are all for a healthy dose of Vitamin D, but be mindful that the sun’s UV rays are the most damaging during this time of the year. In honor of May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here are some sun protection tips for how to look out for the health of your largest organ: your skin.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but wearing sunscreen is one of the most effective ways to protect your skin from sun damage. This not only applies to skin cancer prevention, but it can also help with avoiding the formation of dark spots and signs of premature aging. Aim to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that offers protection from UVA and UVB rays and be sure to reapply on days when you spend a long time in the sun. This is particularly important for individuals with light eyes and skin tones. Especially those of you who are coming out of quarantine looking paler than normal. Note that the more sunburns you have in your lifetime, the greater your risk of contracting skin cancer. Make a habit of applying sunscreen before you leave your house each day, and your body will thank you. Parents, lather up your kids as well. Studies show that childhood sun damage increases the probability of developing melanoma – aka the worst skin cancer – later in life.
Use Sun Protection
Hats, long sleeves, long pants, and sunglasses can be your friends when it comes to shielding your body from the sun. Why else do you think your mom breaks out her big floppy hat on vacation? If you are especially susceptible to skin cancer due to your skin tone or family history, consider covering up or staying inside during the sunniest parts of the day. If you want to show off your beach body, instead try sitting under an umbrella or choosing another shaded area to keep yourself out of direct sunlight. Yes, we all want a summer tan, but be honest with yourself. Do you brown naturally or do you burn? If you’re a burner, embrace your paleness or use a fake tanner to get your glow, but either way steer clear of the sun’s harmful rays. Also, stay out of tanning beds.
Get to Know Your Skin
Skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early. If you have a lot of moles and freckles, look out for any changes, abnormalities, and new formations. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a helpful guide for how to check your skin. The recommendation is to go through this process once a month, recording anything that catches your eye. When you spot something different, make time to talk to a doctor ASAP. The survival rate is nearly 99 percent for those who get a handle on skin cancer in its initial stages, so get screened at the first sign of potential trouble.
See a Dermatologist
Dermatologists have all sorts of methods for assessing what moles and freckles could be dangerous to your health, but the initial screening doesn’t need to be in person. If you are too busy to make it to the doctor or still feel uncomfortable about in-person visits, don’t wait to get checked out. ROKiT Telemedicine offers fast and easy virtual dermatologist consultations with doctors who can take a look at your problem areas and advise on the next best steps for you to take. At the very least, you can give yourself peace of mind that you’re in the clear. There’s nothing like the feeling that comes after a doctor gives you a clean bill of health.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, but it’s also highly preventable and treatable. This summer, be smart and take care of your precious epidermis. Trust us, a little sun protection goes a long way. Enjoy your weekend!