Preventing Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the U.S. In fact, nearly one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Fortunately, skin cancer can usually be cured quickly when it’s found and treated early.

If you have a history of extensive unprotected sun exposure, a family or personal history of skin cancer, or light skin pigmentation, you are at the greatest risk of developing skin cancer.

One of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays and avoid sunburn. Here are our easy tips for staying out of the sun

Never use UV tanning beds. Tanning beds expose users to UV radiation to tan the skin. There’s really no safe way to get color in a tanning bed, so it’s best to steer clear for the health of your skin.

Stay out of the sun. Wear clothing that keeps your skin covered, including hats and UV-blocking sunglasses. One of most common locations for skin cancer is on the head, face, and arms from repeated sun exposure. Bring an umbrella if you’re spending a day at the beach so you have the option to get out of the sun, and always keep newborns covered from the sun until they’re at least 6 months old; then always apply sunscreen.

Use sunscreen every day. UV rays from the sun can reach your skin on cloudy or hazy days, so it’s not just the bright and sunny days you need to worry about. They can also reflect off of surfaces like water, sand and snow to increase your risk of sunburn. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For outdoor activity and extended sun exposure, use at least SPF 30 that is water resistant, and reapply every few hours.

Examine your skin regularly. We recommend examining your skin head to toe every 1-3 months so that if you do notice something unusual, you can catch it early. Look at your skin for any areas with bleeding, itching, burning, or that have a non-healing sore. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular check-ins with your dermatologist to make sure your skin is healthy.

If you suspect that you might have skin cancer or are at a high risk of developing it, schedule a consultation with your dermatologist right away to talk about a plan for preventing, identifying or treating skin cancer.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.