You can count on summer to bring two things: sunny skies and skin cancer warnings. We understand the message can become a bit repetitive, but we are passionate about cancer prevention. So, with that in mind, we have compiled a guide to best practices for protecting your skin. Please note that these tips should be followed all year round, not just during the summer months.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, accounting for nearly half of all cancer cases. Skin cancer types include:
Moles & Melanoma
Common moles are simply a collection of melanocyte, pigment cells that give skin its color. Melanoma is a cancer that develops in the melanocytes. Rarely, atypical (dysplastic) moles turn into melanoma. Identifying signs of melanoma is as easy as ABCDE:
Common signs of melanoma include unusual new moles or changes in existing moles. More moles equal higher risk. If you have over 50 moles, you are at greater risk for melanoma. Other factors that raise your risk include:
Prevent & Protect
Keeping your skin healthy and cancer-free means understanding how the sun affects skin and how to reduce sun damage. The sun emits three types of ultraviolet rays, classified by wavelength:
Protect your skin from UV rays by:
Opt for mineral sunscreen instead of chemical preparations. Mineral products provide a barrier to block harmful ultra violet rays, while chemical sunscreens react to sunlight causing a release of harmful free radicals. No sunscreen successfully blocks all UV rays, but the following are tips on boosting protection:
Take time each month to do a personal skin check so you recognize any changes in moles right away. In addition, be sure to schedule an annual head-to-toe skin examination with your dermatologist.