Skin cancer is diagnosed more than any other type of cancer in the United States. It affects people of all ages and skin types — from fair skin to dark skin, and every skin tone in between. Thankfully, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.
When you visit us at Sterling Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, P.A., in Sarasota, Florida, Dr. Mark Mathieson is our board-certified plastic surgeon who has the expertise to guide you on how to preserve the health of your skin.
Here are five ways to guard against skin cancer:
1. Avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours
The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm during the summer months. This means you should avoid direct sun exposure during these hours whenever possible. If you must be outside, try to stay in the shade or wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, loose pants, and a breathable, long-sleeved shirt.
2. Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30
When it comes to preventing skin cancer, sunscreen is your best friend. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, even on cloudy days. Make sure to apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours as needed. You should also apply it immediately after swimming or sweating. Choose a full-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
3. Check your skin regularly for changes
Skin cancer often appears as a new, unusual, or changing mole or discolored spot on the skin. To detect skin cancer early, you should check your skin regularly for any changes. Take note of any new moles or spots, as well as any existing moles that have changed in size, shape, color, or texture.
While it can be helpful to use a mirror or ask a friend or family member to help you check areas of your skin that are hard to see, having annual skin cancer screenings is the best way to stay on top of your skin cancer risk.
4. Avoid indoor tanning
Indoor tanning is a major risk factor for skin cancer, particularly for young people. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, many studies show that the UV radiation that comes from indoor tanning is associated with increased risk for all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, the most deadly form, and basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common skin cancer types.
Avoid using tanning beds, booths, lamps, and sun lamps. Instead, use a self-tanning product or get a spray tan if you want a darker-toned appearance.
5. Protect your eyes and lips
The skin around your eyes and lips is thin and delicate, making it more susceptible to skin damage and skin cancer. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to help protect your eyes from UV rays, and use a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher to help protect your lips from skin cancer.
Skin cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. However, by taking these five steps, you can protect yourself from harmful UV rays and reduce your risk of developing worrisome skin changes. By making these habits part of your daily routine, your skin can stay healthy and beautiful for years to come.
If you have areas of concern on your skin, or if you want to schedule a skin-boosting spa treatment, give us a call at 941-203-7931 today. We look forward to helping you take good care of your skin.