Top Tips for Skin Cancer Awareness Month


Doctor, dermatologist, hands examines a birthmark of patient. Checking benign moles

According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. “Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and is primarily caused by exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon in Austin, Texas. May is skin cancer awareness month and is a good opportunity to provide the top tips for protecting your skin. Keep the following information about preventing skin cancer in mind and share with friends and family.

1. Limit Exposure

Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index before you head outside. If the index is high, consider changing your plans or make sure you are adequately protected from the sun.

2. Cover up with clothing so skin is not exposed

UPF clothing tends to be less heavy, while still shielding your skin harmful rays! Wear a hat to shade your face, ears, and neck. A large portion of skin cancers appear on the scalp, face, and ears. Properly protecting this area with sunscreen and a hat can make a huge difference in the health of the skin. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Although rare, cancer of the eye and eyelid are possible. Using sunglasses can block those unwanted rays from causing damage to the orbital area.

3. Use a sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection

Use a “Broad spectrum” sunscreen and make sure it is SPF 30 or higher. Apply it 30 minutes before heading outside. Reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours. Reapplication of sunscreen should be consistent, especially for those who are swimming or sweating.

4. Seek shade particularly between 10am and 4pm

“The middle hours of the day are when the UV levels are at their highest,” says Dr. Mamelak. “Staying out of direct sunlight during these hours can significantly help lessen unnecessary exposures.”

5. Keep newborns out of the sun

Babies have exceptionally sensitive skin, making it even more important to use sunscreen and keep them out of the sun as much as possible. “Sunscreen should be avoided in children under 6 months of age,” notes Dr. Mamelak. In these children, covering up with light blankets and sun protective clothing is advised.

6. 15 Minutes / 12 Hours

Skin that isn’t protected from the sun can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes. However, you may not realize the damage has occurred. It can take up to 12 hours for the skin to show a burn. Therefore, you can’t assume you will know when you have had too much exposure fast enough to react. Limiting exposure is the best way to protect your skin.

7. Protection on Cloudy Days Too

Many people mistakenly think that their skin will not be damaged when it is cool or cloudy outside. The UV rays can still damage skin. Therefore, follow the same protection tips on cloudy and cool days that you follow on sunny days.

8. Avoid indoor tanning

Indoor tanning exposes the skin to UVA and UVB rays. This can lead to cancer. Therefore, you should avoid indoor tanning. “Studies have shown that the more time a person has spent tanning indoors, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer.”

9. Know the signs

Check your body each month to look for signs of skin cancer. Check with a doctor if you see:

Have an annual skin exam performed by a physician as well. The earlier skin cancer is detected, the higher success rate in treating it.

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To learn more about skin cancer and to set up you skin cancer screening, please contact us today.

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