Cancer is always a serious disease, regardless of the type. In many cases, there are steps you can take to prevent cancer from developing. Treatments like oncology skin care can help address the symptoms, but it’s better to avoid developing the disease in the first place. In the case of skin cancer, sunscreen can be an effective way to protect yourself. However, there are other things you can to prevent skin cancer. Keep these steps in mind to protect yourself, especially in summer.
Get an annual checkup
One good way of staying ahead of changes to your skin is seeing a dermatologist regularly. It can be hard to know what to look for if you lack the training. For instance, what may seem like an atypical mole to the average person may be an early sign of melanoma. Make annual appointments to catch changes to your skin early.
Wear sunblock every day
Some people aren’t in the habit of wearing sunscreen every day. Sunscreen can give you plenty of protection from the sun’s rays even during cloudy days. UV radiation can still filter through the clouds and affect the skin. Be especially careful about reapplying your sunscreen between 11 A.M. and 2 P.M. when the UV index is at its highest.
Not all sunblocks are created equal, however. Find a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays for maximum defence. Sunblock generally breaks down after a few hours in the sun; reapply it every two or three hours to maintain protection. Make sunscreen a regular part of your daily routine, even when it’s cloudy outside.
Limit your exposure
Put a limit on how much sun you get in a day. As a rule of thumb, avoid the sun and stay in the shade from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. During that time the sun is at its highest, and its rays are at their most direct. Look for protection from the sun (e.g. an umbrella or a tree) to keep yourself safe from UV rays. Use the shadow rule as a guide. Inspect your shadow; if it’s shorter than you, the sun’s rays are stronger. Avoid exposure when the sun is too high.
Think twice before going sunbathing. Even with sunblock on, the sun’s rays can still do some damage to the skin on a cellular level. UVA and UVB rays can both affect the DNA of your skin cells. Over time, this can cause cell damage, leading to signs of aging and skin cancer. Whenever you go sunbathing, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen. Find a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and apply every two or three hours (more if you’re in the water or sweating). For better results, wear a hat and spend time under an umbrella to stay out of the sun.
Skip the tanning beds
Tanning beds can severely increase the risk of developing skin cancer. The radiation from using a tanning bed can be more intense than that produced by the sun. On average, using a tanning bed can make you 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Even occasional exposure can increase the risk of developing melanoma, which is one of the most serious types of skin cancer. Tanning beds are an unnecessary risk; avoid them whenever possible.
Wear protective clothing
What you wear can affect how much sun your skin gets. Wear clothes that give you more coverage (e.g. long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts), even during the summer months, to avoid exposure to too much sun. For better protection, go with dark-coloured, tightly-woven fabrics. It’s usual to wear light, loosely-woven clothes when it’s hot, but these clothes can provide more cover from UV rays. Tightly-woven fabrics physically block more of the sun’s rays from hitting the skin, while dark-colours absorb sunlight. Check the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of your clothes to find the ones that provide the most protection. Combine covering clothes with other methods to maximize the amount of protection you get from the sun’s rays.
Take a hat
When it comes to protecting your skin, go all the way and bring a hat when you go out. Go for one with a wide brim that goes all the way around your head. That much coverage gives enough protection and shades your face, neck, and ears. Avoid using a straw hat; straw has plenty of small holes that can let in some sunlight. Pick a hat made from tightly woven fibres (e.g. canvas), preferably one in dark colours. If you’re wearing a baseball cap instead, protect your neck and ears by wearing clothes that cover those areas.
Look for a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s glare. UV rays can affect your eyes and the surrounding skin, resulting in health complications (e.g. cataracts and ocular melanoma). Shop around for sunglasses that block UV rays. Specifically, look for models with lenses with 99 – 100% UV absorption to give the eyes maximum protection. For ideal results, look for wrap-around sunglasses. These sunglasses wrap around the head and keep out UV rays that can come in from the side.
Inspect once a month
Keep your eyes open for any changes on your skin, especially if you have light skin and a family history of skin cancer. Inspect yourself for suspicious spots at least every month. Check even the hard-to-reach areas to don’t get much sun; skin cancer can still start there.
Know your ABCDEs
Moles can be a sign of skin cancer, especially if they emerged recently or look strange or irregular. The American Academy of Dermatology advises inspecting your moles looking for these symptoms to warn yourself.
- Asymmetry – Does one half of the mole look different from the other?
- Borders – Are there any irregular or poorly defined moles?
- Colour – Look for varying colours among the moles (e.g. shades of tan and brown, or black).
- Diameters – Is the mole the size of a pencil eraser or larger?
- Evolving – Has the mole changed in size, shape, or colour since you saw it last?
Pay attention to any minor skin irregularities you find on your skin. Visit a dermatologist for a professional opinion about what to do next.
Aside from the damage tanning can do to the skin, too much exposure to the sun puts you at risk of sunburn. Sunburns, especially in children, have been linked to increased risk of developing melanoma later in life. Sun damage tends to accumulate over time. Exposure to UV rays can cause lasting damage to skin cells that contributes to developing skin cancer. One sign of that damage is wrinkling, caused by damage to the epidermis and dermis. Avoid exposure to excessive amounts of sun to protect yourself against this kind of lasting damage.
With the right precautions, it’s possible to avoid skin cancer and related health risks. Take steps to protect yourself from the sun and avoid damaging your skin. With the help of these precautions, you can prevent complications and enjoy a better, more healthy life.
Laser Essential and Skin Care provides treatments to help rejuvenate damaged skin. We offer a wide range of services to restore your skin and make it look smooth and sleek. When you’re looking for treatments to help repair sun damage, give us a call at (416) 226-0744 to get started.