Some people are at greater risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. In fact, insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield recently did a survey of more than 9 million of its members who were given a skin cancer diagnosis and found the state of Florida took the number one spot in skin cancer cases. Here are three tips you can use to reduce your risk.
1. Limit Sun Exposure
Unprotected sun exposure is a huge risk. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90 percent of all skin cancer is due to sun exposure. Naturally, the longer a person lives, the more sun exposure they accumulate. You can limit your sun exposure by staying indoors or in the shade when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. In most places, this means avoiding the sun from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Another way you can limit your exposure to the sun is by wearing protective clothing that blocks the sun’s rays. Choose fabrics that are tightly woven and flowing or loose-fitting to help block the sun yet stay cool. When the temperature permits, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and long dresses or skirts rather than t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and short dresses and skirts.
Protect your face, eyes, and head from the sun with wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. To fully protect your eyes, don’t wear drugstore sunglasses. Instead, choose a pair that has an antireflective coating. This will help protect your eyes from both UV and visible light.
2. Wear Sunscreen
People with a history of severe sunburn, especially when younger, are at increased risk of developing melanoma, so it is extremely important to wear sunscreen. One way to do this is with a zinc-based sunscreen, with at least 7–10 percent of zinc oxide, states Dr. Roper, one of our dermatologists here at Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center.
Reapply throughout the day, after heavy perspiring, and after swimming. The water and sand can also intensify the rays as these are reflective surfaces, so if you’re at the beach, you may need to reapply more frequently to prevent burning.
Wear sunscreen whenever you are outdoors. Even on a cloudy day and during the winter, the rays of the sun are still damaging your skin. Women who wear makeup can further protect their skin by choosing cosmetics that offer sun protection. Dermatologists often offer products such as foundation, powder, and primer as well as bronzer with sun-protecting ingredients.
While white people are more prone to melanoma as they usually have lighter eyes and hair and fairer skin, no matter what color your complexion or what your ethnicity is, you should wear sunscreen. The sun doesn’t discriminate in the damage it causes.
3. Don’t Use Tanning Beds
Researchers found that tanning bed use in people before the age of 35 increased their risk of melanoma by up to 75 percent. Melanoma is one of the top cancers diagnosed in young adults and many researchers believe tanning beds play a role. Though the issue is common in young adults, tanning beds are not safe at any age.
While you can’t completely eliminate the threat of melanoma or change your complexion or family history, doing everything you can to protect your skin can lessen the risk. Melanoma can be deadly if it goes unnoticed and spreads, but when caught early, you have a good chance at successfully treating it.
Contact our office today if you are concerned a mole or spot on your skin may be cancerous or if you are due for your annual checkup. We can do a thorough screening to check for melanoma or any of the other forms of cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.