May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month–learn how to stay sun safe this Spring with the following tips and advice. Skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer in the United States, but most cases are entirely preventable. “Despite efforts to address skin cancer risk factors, such as inadequate sun protection and intentional tanning behaviors, skin cancer rates, including rates of melanoma, have continued to increase in the United States and worldwide.” According to the CDC, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Learn about the importance of sun protection in the form of sunscreen, shade, clothing choices and more!
Healthy Aging and Living
People are living a lot longer than they have in the past, so there is a growing awareness for people of all ages on how to enhance these added years. We are now interested in expanding both the years of life (lifespan) as well as the years of health (healthspan). As modern technology and knowledge have advanced, so has our understanding of the importance of taking care of our skin from an early age. Especially during the Spring and Summer months, we are enticed by the warm weather to be outside more, go hiking, swimming, and do all we can to enjoy the warmth before winter sets in again. Unfortunately, the warm, summer months can be a time when our skin becomes exposed to deadly UV rays that can cause skin cancer. UV, or ultraviolet, rays come from the sun or artificial sources, like tanning beds, and they are the most common cause of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., but most types are completely preventable! Nearly 5 million people are treated each year for skin cancer, and an average of 9,000 people die from melanoma each year, which is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer that one can develop. Don’t let the statistics scare you-most people won’t develop skin cancer, especially if they take the proper steps to care for and protect their skin as they’re out and about in the sun. If you or your children will be spending a lot of time outside this summer, include some of the following tips into your daily routine to keep your skin healthy.
Protect The Skin You’re In
The sun is an essential part of every living organism’s life as it gives light to help things grow, keeps the earth warm and helps us keep track of time and the seasons. To make sure that we can enjoy our time in the sun while protecting ourselves at the same time, there are a few guidelines that we should follow to avoid overexposure as much as possible:
- Cover up: Wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat that covers as much skin as possible. Wear sunglasses that can block 99% of UV light.
- Stay in the shade: Especially during the hours between 10 AM and 4PM, stick to shady areas where you won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
- Avoid tanning beds and/or sunlamps: These sources of light contribute to skin cancer and can cause long-term skin damage. The tan you might get is not worth the consequences of cancer.
- Wear sunscreen: A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is enough to protect your skin. Reapply every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.
Consistently following these guidelines will help protect your skin from UV ray exposure but still allow you to enjoy all of your outdoor activities. Taking the proper precautions when it’s sunny, and even when it’s cloudy, can be the difference between healthy skin and cancerous skin. These recommendations are especially important for young children as their skin is still developing and very sensitive. By following these tips, you general wellness will increase and you’ll be able to ensure an optimal life as you grow older.
Choosing The Right Sunscreen
While many of the recommendations for protecting your skin are easy enough to follow, knowing which sunscreen you should use on yourself or your kids can be a difficult decision to make. With all of the different brands and special additions that some sunscreens advertise, it can be hard knowing which sunscreen will work best for your family. Especially during the summer, sunscreen is important to use every time you go outside as the sun is stronger, the days are longer and most people spend more time outdoors. Read the label before you buy any brand of sunscreen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires sunscreen labels to follow certain guidelines on what they advertise on their product. Look for a sunscreen that has “broad-spectrum” protection, which means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunscreens protect against UVB rays, which are the cause of sunburns, but not all protect against UVA, which is a major contributor of skin cancer and premature aging.
Make sure to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. The SPF number is the level of protection that sunscreen provides against UVB rays. Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen protects you completely, but it is much better that you wear something rather than nothing. Additionally, look out for the terms “water resistant” and “waterproof”. No sunscreens are waterproof or sweatproof, and manufacturers are legally not allowed to claim that they are. If a label claims that its sunscreen is water resistant, it must state how long it lasts while swimming and/or sweating. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and even more often if you are swimming or sweating a lot.
Take Care of Your Skin Now
At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, our team is devoted to your family’s overall health and happiness. If you have any questions about skin cancer or would like a health screening, call our office at (970) 631-8286 to schedule a consultation. Your path to wellness begins now!