Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. It is the most common form of cancer, as more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other types of cancer combined. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it is a crucial time to spread awareness of this disease.
Skin cancer correlates with your lifestyle, so if you make the necessary changes in your routine, you may be able to avoid it altogether. Understanding how to make the best decisions for avoiding the physical and emotional strain this disease can put on you is crucial. Here are 15 facts that can help steer you in the right direction.
Skin cancer is most often caused by UV rays
Both the sun and indoor tanning booths expose you to UV rays that can lead to skin cancer. Over time, increased exposure will leave you with more damage.
The effects of UV exposure are cumulative
Many people who are diagnosed with skin cancer have spent years tanning, and their diagnosis is based on the cumulative effects of UV rays. For example, if you get a sunburn once or twice, you are not necessarily going to get skin cancer, but after years of tanning and getting sunburned, you are more likely to have damaged skin that will lead to cancer down the road.
You should use sunscreen on cloudy days
UV rays can be harmful even on cloudy days. Wear sunscreen any time your skin is exposed to the sun, even through the clouds.
Sunscreen is not waterproof
Sunscreen is not waterproof and is not going to completely protect you from the sun. You have to reapply sunscreen frequently and make sure it covers any areas of your body that are exposed to the sun. If you go swimming, reapply sunscreen right away.
Indoor tanning is just as dangerous as the sun
Some people think that tanning beds are less dangerous than the sun, but that is not the case. Both the sun and tanning beds are extremely dangerous to your skin.
Catching precancerous skin damage will help you avoid cancer
If you see anything on your body that doesn’t look right, see a dermatologist right away. Finding precancerous skin and taking care of it quickly will minimize your chances of cancer skin cancer in the future.
Dark-skinned people are just as susceptible to the sun
Many people think that dark-skinned people are not able to become sunburned, but that is false. Everyone is equally susceptible to UV rays and should wear sunscreen during any kind of sun exposure.
A “healthy tan” is not really healthy
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Being tan from UV rays is not healthy no matter how you spin it.
Kids are highly sensitive to the sun
Kids are extremely sensitive to the sun and should use sunscreen with a high SPF.
Be cautious of reflective sunlight
When the sun reflects off water, snow or shiny surfaces, it can damage your skin. Wearing sunscreen with SPF on your arms and face whenever you go outdoors can help prevent skin damage from reflective materials.
Avoid the sun during peak hours
Peak hours are between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. The sun is the strongest during these hours and you should avoid sitting in the direct sunlight during this time.
Be cautious about sun exposure while driving
Sitting in the car for hours in the sun is the same as sitting on the beach for hours without protection.
Apply sunscreen every two hours
Apply sunscreen application every two hours, especially if you are at the beach or swimming pool.
You do not need much sunlight to contract skin cancer
You do not need to sit in the sun for hours or get sunburned to get skin cancer. Any sun exposure can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer, which is why wearing sunscreen with SPF at all times is crucial.
It is never too late to make lifestyle changes
If you have already spent much of your life exposing your skin to the sun, do not be discouraged. Beginning to take proper care of your skin now will minimize skin damage in the future and will lower your risk for skin cancer. It is never too late to take care of yourself.
Skin cancer is common and can be treated before the situation gets serious. If you see anything on your body that doesn’t look right, make an appointment with your dermatologist right away.
For more information about sun exposure and skin cancer, contact us today.