7 Preventive Measures Against Skin Cancer You Should Know

Skin Cancer Awareness Month Preventive Measures Against Skin Cancer

It’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the summer months are rapidly approaching, so it’s worth knowing the preventive measures you can take to lessen the risk of sun damage giving you skin cancer.

Nearly 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and 1 in 5 is expected to get the condition in their lifetime. So what can you do to lessen your risk of developing the disease?

1. Protect your skin with sunscreen

Even when it’s a cloudy day, UV radiation can filter through and damage your skin. Wearing sunscreen every day is important to protect you against skin cancer, but particularly when the sun is highest in the sky, between 11am and 2pm.

Not all sunscreens are created equal.  Use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen that has sun protection factor of at least 30 for optimal protection. Reapply every two hours that you’re outside and after swimming.

2. Cover up with clothes

Wanting a tanned glow to your skin can make it tempting to ditch the layers and opt for skinny tops, shorts, and bikinis, but exposing too much of your skin to the sun can put you at risk of developing skin cancer.

Choose tight weave garments rather than cotton as these offer better protection against the sun and wear loose and flowing clothes whenever possible.

3. Skip the sunbed and tanning booth

If you really do want a bronzed look this summer, opt for a spray tan rather than spending long periods on a sunbed or in a tanning booth. Both of these tanning methods rely on UV rays to darken your skin, and that radiation can cause your skin cells to mutate and develop into cancer.

4. Seek shade during the hottest part of the day

As mentioned above, 11am to 2pm is the hottest part of the day thanks to the sun being at its highest position in the sky, and this is the time that damage to your skin is most likely to occur. Try to stay indoors during these hours as much as possible, but if you must be outdoors, wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing.

5. Check yourself regularly

Damage caused by the sun can sneak up on you suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere. Damage that occurred months or even years ago can trigger skin changes now, so it’s important to check yourself regularly for any potential changes.

Skin changes to look out for include bleeding, burning, itching, or a sore that doesn’t heal.

6. Observe your moles for the ABCDEs

Moles alone aren’t usually a cause for concern until you notice changes, at which point you should consult your doctor. The American Academy of Dermatology highlights the following signs to look out for, using the ABCDE method:

Check your moles regularly for these signs and discuss any changes with your physician.

7. Get an annual checkup

The best way to protect your skin against damage and spot any emerging signs of damage is to have an annual checkup with your physician.  

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