“Social distancing” is a term that we have become very familiar with throughout the last year. But keeping a safe distance from others during a pandemic is not the only type of distancing we should be doing. Did you know that it is essential to be protected from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays as well? Spending time outside in the sun throughout the year increases your risk of skin damage, and sun exposure will contribute to skin cancer later on. Though some skin cancers are genetic, you can avoid most skin cancers with the proper prevention methods. Continue reading to learn more.

WHAT IS SKIN CANCER?

Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal skin cells. Skin cancer occurs when your skin cells’ DNA becomes damaged, usually from UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. All types of skin pigmentations can develop skin cancer. While exposed skin is often the cause for the majority of skin cancer cases, skin that is not exposed, like your palms, can be affected by skin cancer as well.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in the United States. There are 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancer cases and more than 76,000 cases of melanoma skin cancer each year.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SKIN CANCER?

Skin cancer can take many shapes and forms, but it is categorized into two groups: non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma skin cancer.

Non-melanoma skin cancers can include:

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma kills more than 10,000 Americans each year, and it results in more than 75 percent of skin cancer-related deaths. Melanoma can develop from existing moles, or it may only look like a mole. The first sign of melanoma is an unusual looking freckle or mole. The ABCDE method, developed by the American Academy of Dermatology can help you, and your dermatologist identify melanoma.

WHO IS MOST AT RISK FOR SKIN CANCER? 

Anyone can get skin cancer, but some individuals have an increased risk, including:

HOW CAN YOU REDUCE YOUR RISK FOR SKIN CANCER? 

Use Sunscreen 

One of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is by using the proper sunscreen for your skin type. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that works on UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen on all areas of your body that will not be protected by articles of clothing. When outdoors, be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating. You can learn more about all of the sunscreen products we offer at the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC here.

Avoid UV Radiation 

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends to seek out shaded areas and avoid direct sunlight during the sun’s peak hours, which take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. These actions minimize your chances of UV ray exposure. You should cover up your arms and legs and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Avoid Indoor Tanning Beds 

You should avoid indoor tanning beds. Tanning beds are much worse than the sun as the UV light is more intense. Most tanning beds emit approximately 12 times more UVA rays than natural sunlight. Tanning beds are a carcinogen (a substance that promotes cancer); you cannot get a safe tan.

Perform Regular Skin Self-Examinations 

You should perform skin self-examinations at least once per month to detect skin differences early when skin cancer is most treatable. As a general rule, if you notice new or suspicious lesions on your skin, or anything changing, itching or bleeding, you should see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

SEE YOUR DERMATOLOGIST | DERMATOLOGY CENTER FOR SKIN HEALTH, PLLC 

Skin cancer is serious, and it can be deadly if it is not discovered in its early stages. Even if you do not have any skin concerns, you should see a dermatologist for yearly skin cancer screenings. Your dermatologist can examine and evaluate any areas of your skin you may have missed during self-exams. Based on their assessment, you will be provided with the appropriate treatment plan, if needed.

At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we provide full body skin evaluations.

References: 

5 steps to help prevent skin cancer

Prevent skin cancer

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