The warmth of the sun often feels good, particularly after the cool, dull days of winter, but as you likely already know, too much sun has its own drawbacks. As well as causing the discomfort and pain of sunburn, absorbing ultraviolet components of the sun’s rays contributes to some types of skin cancer.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month — perfect timing with beach and outdoor activity season just ahead. And what better time to review the best ways to protect yourself against skin cancer.
Certainly, for some people, skin cancer develops for genetic reasons, such as a family history of the disease. There’s little to protect against congenital risk save for a regular and thorough skin self-exam. You can, however, protect against the harmful portions of sun exposure. Here are some of the best steps you can take to prevent skin cancer.
The sun is most intense from 10am to 2pm. Avoiding exposure during this four-hour window makes managing sun risk much easier. If you’re not wearing a watch, check the length of your shadow. If it’s shorter than you are, then the sun is at its overhead peak, and it’s time to find some shade.
And anyway, it’s lunch time and often the hottest part of the day, so why not stay indoors and out of the sun. Siesta anyone?
It takes about 1 ounce of sunscreen to fully protect the average adult body, the equivalent of two tablespoons. Use a minimum of an SPF 15 formula and, ideally, apply it 30 minutes before you go outside to let your skin absorb the UV blockers.
If you’re planning on spending more time outside or if you’re going to be active, consider a sunscreen with a higher SPF factor. Reapply every two hours, or after you swim or sweat extensively.
It’s not always a one-way, line-of-sight journey between you and the sun. When you’re outside, you’re vulnerable from reflected UV rays as well as direct rays. Water and sand can reflect UV rays onto your body, increasing the dose of harmful solar energy your body absorbs. This is another reason for thorough sunscreen coverage.
A point to file if you’re active in the winter: Snow has similar reflective properties, so colder weather won’t prevent UV exposure.
If you need a sensible reason to shop for the beach, consider it done, if you’re seeking out sensible and stylish protective clothing. Choose lightweight fabrics with long sleeves, longer pants, wide brimmed hats, and oversized sunglasses. Style it up, but make sure the fabric has some sunscreen value. Ultra-sheer items may offer little protection.
Early detection and treatment are key to limiting the damage caused by skin cancer. It’s the most common form of cancer and one of the most easily prevented.
If you have an irregular mole, spot, or you have a lesion that’s recurring and won’t heal, contact any location of Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates. Their skin cancer specialists can examine your skin closely, taking action when pre-cancer or cancer is found. Call today.