It’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month! Skin cancer is way more common than you may think. Did you know skin cancer accounts for one-third of all cancers in the United States? One in six Americans develops skin cancer at some point in their lives. While this type of cancer is treatable in most cases, it can be fatal if left undetected. Here are our Miami skin doctor’s best skin cancer prevention tips to keep your skin healthy and protected.
How to Protect Your Skin
Like other types of cancer, skin cancer develops when one of the three types of cells that make up your skin reproduces abnormally. As they continue to grow and divide, they can metastasize. This means they spread to other places in your body through your lymphatic system. But what causes these cells to grow and spread this way?
Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. When you don’t protect your skin, UV rays from sunlight or tanning beds can damage your skin’s DNA. When the DNA is altered, it can’t properly control skin cell growth, leading to cancer. Here are some of our best skin cancer prevention tips.
Limit Sun Exposure
The most foolproof way to minimize UV damage to your skin is to stay out of the Sun. However, being outdoors and spending a few minutes in the Sun everyday does have its benefits. In addition, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid UV rays as they come in through windows at your house or in your car.
As opposed to complete avoidance, we recommend limiting your time in the Sun. Don’t spend more time outside than you have to and take breaks to be in shady areas. The more you expose your skin to the Sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, the more you risk damaging it. If you do go outside, avoid going out in peak sun hours, usually between 10 am to 4pm.
UV rays are the strongest in the spring and summer months. Oh, and please don’t use tanning beds! These devices use high amounts of UV light to give you a tan, but they are incredibly damaging and have been a major contributing factor to skin cancer cases. While tanning beds have become less popular over the years, tanning naturally outdoors is still common.
This may surprise you, but tanning is still a sign of sun damage even though it doesn’t hurt like a sunburn. There are several signs of sun damage—including hyperpigmentation and premature fine lines—and many of them don’t develop until years following UV damage. Just because your skin isn’t sore and red doesn’t mean the Sun isn’t hurting it. If you want a golden glow, reach for sunless tanning products, not the tanning oil.
Wear Sun-Protective Fashion!
Wearing sun-protective accessories and clothing will offer protection when you do go outside. Hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing will minimize UV damage to the skin and prevent skin cancer. Don’t forget an umbrella when you’re at the beach!
Don’t Treat SPF like a Coat of Armor
A common misconception is that SPF is the most protective measure against UV rays. While you should absolutely wear SPF every day on your hands, face, and neck, it should not be your only form of protection when you’re doing outdoor activities. It’s easy to think you can spend however much time in the Sun that you want simply because you’re wearing sunscreen.
Wear SPF and re-apply regularly, but don’t treat it like a shining coat of armor. When you’re by the pool in your bathing suit or riding your bike this summer, don’t forget to apply broad-spectrum SPF lotion to all exposed areas and to follow the other tips we mentioned earlier.
Get a Skin Cancer Screening
Better to be safe than to be sorry. Regular skin cancer tests help you feel absolutely certain that your skin is healthy. Skin cancer screenings are a form of preventative care that can be life-saving. Your dermatologist will be able to tell if your skin is completely healthy or if there are potential sites of skin cancer. With further testing and regular monitoring, your skin doctor can catch skin cancer early, treat it, and save your life.
Celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness Month at MCD
Haven’t been too diligent with protecting your skin? We’ve got you covered. Schedule a skin cancer screening with us and we’ll do all the necessary skin cancer tests to make sure you’re in the clear. Our skin doctors in Miami are well-versed in skin cancer treatment that is effective and life-saving.