After being stuck inside for weeks, you may be itching to get out and soak up some sun. Though a little sunshine helps restore your body’s vitamin D levels, it also increases your risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and it’s estimated that 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with some form of the disease every single day.
Skin cancer may be alarmingly common, but it’s also largely preventable. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and our expert dermatologists, Dr. Vicki Rapaport and Dr. Marvin Rapaport of Rapaport Dermatology of Beverly Hills want to share some essential steps you can take to prevent skin cancer.
1. Use sunscreen every day
Adding sunscreen to your daily skin care routine is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce your skin cancer risk. Our dermatologists are dedicated to helping keep your skin protected from the sun and offer many skin care products with SPF (sun protection factor), including chemical-free sunscreen and the Colorescience® Sunforgettable® line of skin products.
2. Stay out of the sun during peak hours
The harmful rays of the sun are strongest between 10am and 2pm. To protect your skin, plan outdoor activities before or after these times. If you must be outside during peak sunlight hours, look for shady spots for added protection.
3. Cover up with clothing
Though we consider sunscreen an essential part of your skin care routine, we know not everyone remembers to apply it to their skin, or they simply don’t like how it feels. If you choose to skip sunscreen, you can still limit your exposure to UV light by wearing clothes that provide more complete skin coverage.
Stay cool and protect your skin through the warm-weather months by choosing lightweight long-sleeve shirts, long pants or skirts, and a wide-brimmed hat. Though tightly woven fabrics offer excellent protection against harmful UV rays, you may also wonder about clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) labels. The Skin Cancer Foundation says to look for clothing with a UPF of 30 or greater to get the best protection
4. Wear sunglasses with UV protection
Protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them by wearing oversized or wraparound-style sunglasses with lenses that provide 100% protection against UV radiation, including UVA and UVB light rays.
When looking for your next pair of designer sunglasses, be sure to only invest in a pair labeled “100% protection against UVA and UVB” or “100% protection against UV 400.”
5. Keep tabs on the health of your skin
No matter how dedicated you are to protecting your skin with regular use of sunscreen, keeping your skin covered, and avoiding the strong midday sun, no skin cancer prevention plan is complete without monthly skin self-checks and annual preventive skin cancer screenings.
When examining your own skin, look for any scaly patches, raised growths, or sores that don’t heal. Any changes in the shape, color, or size of your moles are also of concern. Use the ABCDE rule when examining moles:
- Asymmetry: One half doesn’t match the other
- Border: Irregular borders
- Color: Variations in color
- Diameter: Bigger than a pencil eraser
- Evolution: Noticeable changes in size, shape, or color
If you notice a mole or other type of skin lesion that’s changed, appears unusual, itches, or bleeds, give us a call. In addition to closely examining suspicious skin lesions, we can perform a comprehensive skin cancer screening to check every inch of your skin.
Skin cancer may be common, but it’s also highly curable, especially when diagnosed and treated early. To schedule your skin cancer screening or to share your concerns about a mole or new skin growth, contact us by phone or online today.