Despite repeated warnings about the danger of sun exposure, and despite the increased use of sunscreen in recent years, skin cancer is still the most common cancer in the United States. Every day, about 9,500 women, men, and even some children are diagnosed with skin cancer. That doesn’t account for those who go undiagnosed.
Part of keeping your skin beautiful is keeping it healthy. The number-one way to protect your skin’s health is to avoid the sun’s damaging rays. When you’re outdoors during summer, that can be more challenging than usual.
At Central Utah Dermatology in Richfield, Utah, our medical dermatology experts recommend annual skin cancer screenings as well as monthly self-exams. We also advise following the tips to keep your skin safe while on the beach, in the park, or otherwise having fun in the sun.
A sunburn is actually a radiation burn. Just one sunburn with blisters — even if you were a child or a teenager when it happened — doubles your risk for a potentially deadly melanoma. All sunburns, whether blistering or not, increase your risk for skin cancer.
When you’re outdoors, even if you’re wearing sunscreen, test your skin to be sure you’re not burning. A sunburn can start in as little as 11 minutes after being in the sun.
While it’s true that fair individuals are more susceptible to skin cancer than more darkly-complected people, nobody is immune to UVA and UVB damage. No matter how dark you are, be sure you avoid the sun at peak hours, use sunscreen, and wear protective clothing.
The higher the sun is in the sky, the more damaging its rays are. Damage from UVA and UVB rays doesn’t just change the look of your skin, it alters the DNA in your skin’s cells and raises the risk that they’ll become cancerous.
Avoid the sun whenever possible from 10 am to 4 pm. If you must be outdoors, stay in the shade, such as under an umbrella or tree.
Don’t be fooled by clouds, either; a cloudy day can be even more damaging than a sunny day. Sunlight reflects off clouds, which means you could get burned even when you don’t feel warm.
You waited all year for the moment when you could break out your summer tee-shirts, shorts, bathing suits, and sun dresses. But exposing your skin on sunny days puts your skin at risk.
If you’re outdoors, borrow a hack from your great-grandparents and cover up. Keep safe by wearing:
Some clothing manufacturers sell clothing that’s specially designed to have a sun-protection factor (SPF). They even make long-sleeved and long-legged bathing suits and wet suits with SPFs so you can stay safe on the beach.
Your sunscreen should offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays and should have an SPF of at least 30. But putting on a thin layer of sunscreen once a day isn’t enough, no matter how strong or high-quality a formulation you choose.
You must re-apply sunscreen after swimming or sweating. Even if you’re “chilling” in the shade, reapply every two hours. Ask us about medical-grade sunscreens with ingredients that offer skin protection while also protecting your health.
We can’t overemphasize the importance of keeping tabs on your own skin. Each month, make it a habit to look over your entire body, including hard-to-see areas, such as behind your ears (use two mirrors or get help).
If you notice any new moles that look suspicious, or if current moles have changed or grown, let us know. Always be aware of the ABCDEs of melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer:
If any mole or skin lesion bleeds, oozes, or blisters, give us a call right away.