May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and as summer nears, it is important for us to be reminded of the ways that we can protect our skin from the damaging rays of the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation: “Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined”, making skin cancer the most common form of cancer in the world. As skin cancer affects one in every five Americans, it is important to brush up on daily actions that we can take to prevent damage to our skin.
Here are a few key areas to focus on:
Protect: Practice multiple methods to protect against damaging rays. Use a medical grade sunscreen with at least 30 SPF daily, even on cloudy Seattle days. UVA and UVB rays are carcinogenic and aging to our skin. Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapply every two to four hours when outdoors to reduce risk of harmful UVA/UVB rays. Seek shade during the sun’s harshest hours: between 10 a.m. and 4 pm.
Examine: It is important to see a dermatologist once a year for a professional skin exam. Become familiar with the moles, freckles, and birthmarks on your body and monitor them for any change, such as irregular shape, color, or growth.
Prevent: Avoid artificial UVA radiation, such as that from tanning beds. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation one indoor tanning session increases the users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent. Wearing a hat and UV blocking sunglasses also help protect your face from damaging rays. In addition, covering up with Coolibar clothing will act as first line of defense, offering further SPF protection.
It is important to be conscious that the risk of skin cancer increases with age, although much of the damage can be caused due to a bad sunburn as a child or adolescent. Therefore, we must protect our skin at all ages. By using multiple forms of protection, and taking preventative measures we can still enjoy the sunshine, while reducing our risk of skin cancer! For more information on the best products and treatments for sun damage: http://www.purskinclinic.com/sun-damage
Denice Schwind, PA-C has specialized in medical and Cosmetic Dermatology since 2004 and is an industry leader in skin care and anti-aging. Feel free to submit questions directly to Denice at [email protected]