Skin cancer prevention should be top-of-mind year-round, but during the month of May, which is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we put extra emphasis on the importance of prevention, early detection, and treatment.
The Importance of Skin Cancer Prevention
We all may be aware of skin cancer, but it’s the preventive steps that are critical to helping minimize your chances of getting skin cancer. One of the most important prevention methods is actually quite simple – properly protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
9,500 people in the U.S. are estimated to be diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., and rates are only increasing, especially among women and individuals under the age of 40.
Repeated exposure to the sun’s UV rays impact the skin and its connective tissue over time, heightening the potential for skin issues like sun spots and wrinkles and lines. However, extended sun exposure can also damage the DNA within your skin cells, causing those cells to grow and divide rapidly. This growth can create a buildup of extra cells that become tumors, which can be cancerous.
3 million Americans are diagnosed each year with nonmelanoma skin cancer. This type of cancer is the most common and includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Anyone at any age can be diagnosed with skin cancer and should take precautions to prevent or identify skin cancer.
Early detection is key, but just as important is prevention.
Tips for Sun Protection
If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you know the more immediate consequences of failing to properly protect your skin from the sun. But even if you don’t end up with a sunburn, the sun is still causing incremental skin damage over time. If you go out in the sun every day for 5 years, but only use sunscreen once in a while, all of those unprotected exposures can impact the skin over that time.
The reality is, you don’t have to be on a beach to need sunscreen. Our skin is exposed to the sun all year long, especially the face, and should always be protected.
Our dermatologists and providers also have a few tips to help you master your sunscreen regimen and protect your skin from sun damage.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50 for extended sun exposure, and reapply every two hours.
- Wear a daily moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30. Most facial moisturizers only offer an SPF of 15, which offers some protection but not quite enough.
- Apply a lip balm or lip moisturizer with SPF.
- Sun protective clothing and hats are very helpful for sun protection. There are lots of reliable brands nowadays such as Solumbra® and Coolibar®.
- Keep sunblock and an SPF moisturizer in your car/bag/purse for easy access when you need it.
- Don’t forget about your neck, arms, hands, and legs! Depending on the season, the weather, and your activity, any exposed skin should be protected.
It’s never too late to start focusing on daily sun protection and skin cancer prevention, but if you have concerns about your skin from previous sun exposures, the best thing to do is meet with your local dermatologist for a skin check and to discuss any concerns you may have.
Think of Every Month As Skin Cancer Awareness Month
When it comes to skin cancer, awareness is critical and leads to preventive habits and early detection, which helps increase success rates for treatment. Schedule an appointment at The Dermatology Center of Indiana for a skin check, to discuss your questions and concerns, and begin a healthier approach to skin care!