Even though we know that the sun’s harmful rays can lead to skin cancer, many of us spend a lot of time outdoors without giving sunscreen a second thought. With over five million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, we at Easton Dermatology Associates, with convenient locations in Easton and Salisbury, Maryland, want to help you reduce your chances of contributing to that statistic.
Since May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we thought this was the perfect time to share our tips for preventing skin cancer. Dr. Michael Del Torto, Dr. Donald Stranahan, Jr., and their dedicated dermatology team recommend five important ways to protect your family against skin cancer.
1. Wear sunscreen every day.
It’s not enough to apply sunscreen only when you’re at the beach or outside enjoying one of the many Eastern Shore outdoor activities this spring and summer. Skin cancer can affect any skin type, so apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day to reduce your risk.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying 1 ounce of sunscreen, or 2 tablespoons, to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you’re in the water or sweating a lot. And for days when you’re spending several hours outside, use a sunscreen with ans SPF of 30 or higher and reapply as often as needed so you’re protected all day.
2. Cover up with clothing and wear a hat.
Clothing is one of your best defenses against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. A long-sleeved shirt, for example, absorbs and blocks UV rays before they can damage your delicate skin. Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat that keeps the sun off your face, scalp, ears, and neck is a second line of protection along with your liberal sunscreen application.
3. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses every day.
Sunglasses, like clothing, are one of the easiest and most effective ways you and your family can reduce your risk of skin cancer. Both adults and kids should wear sunglasses every day, all year long, whenever you’re outside.
Your eyelids and the skin around your eyes is very delicate. Sunglasses block nearly 100% of both UVA and UVB rays from reaching your eyes and the skin around them. Plus, who doesn’t look cool in a stylish pair of shades?
4. Seek the shade and don’t get sunburned.
You may have heard that it’s a good idea to stay inside when the sun’s rays are the most intense. A good rule of thumb is to avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. If you have to be outside, sit under an umbrella, a tree, or anywhere else you can find shade so you’re not exposed to direct sunlight.
Seeking the shade, wearing sunscreen, and protective clothing and eyewear all help prevent you and your family from getting sunburned. Did you know that your risk for melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns during the course of your lifetime.
That’s alarming news, since many people get sunburned at the beach every year during their summer vacation. If you notice your skin is turning pink, get out of the sun immediately. Any type of sunburn, no matter how mild, is a sign of damage to your skin.
5. Schedule a yearly skin cancer screening with a board-certified dermatologist.
Most skin cancers, including the two most common types — basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) — are highly treatable if detected early. Along with head-to-toe self-exams for early signs of skin cancer, a professional skin cancer screening by one of the board-certified dermatologists at Easton Dermatology Associates is an important part of your prevention routine.
During a skin cancer screening, your doctor closely examines your skin, including moles, your scalp, and between your toes with a special magnifying device. If they notice any of the signs of skin cancer, including an asymmetrically shaped mole, one that’s unusually large, or a lesion that’s unique in appearance, your dermatologist may remove some of the area in question to further examine it for abnormal cell growth. This is known as a biopsy.
Be smart this spring and summer and all year long. Follow these simple guidelines to protect your skin against skin cancer. It could save your life.
When was the last time every member of your family had a professional skin cancer screening? Call us at our Easton or Salisbury locations to schedule an exam today.