It’s estimated that one in five adults will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Men and women age 40 and more and anyone with a family history of skin cancer are especially at risk for the disease, but everyone should be taking the right precautions to avoid skin damage that can lead to cancerous growths.
David A. Bushore, MD, board-certified dermatologist and owner of Balcones Dermatology & Aesthetics is experienced in diagnosing and successfully treating all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, the most life-threatening form of skin cancer. He’s also passionate about ensuring people know what to do to protect their skin for a lifetime.
Here are five ways to HELP prevent getting skin cancer at any age:
1. Opt for shade
The sun’s rays are strongest during the afternoon hours, typically between 10am-4pm. If you have to be outdoors, seek out shady spots under trees or other coverings to block out the sun.
When planning your outside activities, consider waiting until the sunniest part of the day has passed.
2. Wear high-quality sunscreen
Sunscreen protects your skin from the damaging rays that cause sunburns and prematurely age your skin. By preventing sunburns with a high-quality sunscreen, you can reduce damage that can increase your risk for developing skin cancer.
If you’re going outside for any reason, apply sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin, including your face, ears, and neck.
For daily wear, a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher is recommended by Dr. Bushore to protect you from sun damage. Plus, if you plan to be more active, like playing sports or swimming, it’s especially important to use a waterproof broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.
3. Apply sunscreen correctly
A good sunscreen can protect you from skin damage only if you’re applying it correctly. To achieve optimal protection, generously apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors. You also need to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming or actively sweating.
Sunscreen should be used in all seasons, including the winter. The sun’s rays may not be as strong when it’s not summer, but they’re still present in the atmosphere and can damage your skin.
4. Invest in the right clothing
If you have a light complexion or tend to burn easily, look for loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and large-brimmed hats to wear for outdoor activities.
It’s also important that you protect your eye health while out in the sun. Invest in a quality pair of sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays of the sun, and wear them every time you’re outdoors.
5. Stop using tanning beds
While you may like the look of a summer suntan, the reality is that your tan is a good indication that your skin is already being damaged by the sun. This kind of damage can lead to early wrinkles and lines as well as increase your risk for developing skin cancer.
Use proper protection when out in the sun and stop using tanning beds. Tanning beds may use ultraviolet light sources that are just as damaging to your skin. The bottom line is that tanning beds are not safe, are a known carcinogen (like cigarettes), and can increase the risk of developing melanoma by more than 59% if used before the age of 35. Dr. Bushore does not recommend the use of tanning beds in any circumstances, no matter what age you are.
6. Get your skin checked yearly
Even without a personal or family history of skin cancer, do yourself a favor and schedule an annual skin evaluation with Dr. Bushore. He can thoroughly examine your skin, including the areas you cannot see, for signs of skin damage or possible cancerous tissue.
By identifying abnormal skin changes or growths in the earliest stages, your chances for a successful recovery are high. Dr. Bushore can also give you advice for checking your own skin at home to ensure you stay proactive in your fight against skin cancer.
Don’t neglect your skin’s health. Schedule an annual skin evaluation today using the online booking feature or by calling Balcones Dermatology & Aesthetics today.