Skin Cancer Awareness Month 2019 – Preventing Skin Cancer
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a bright sunny day outdoors with family & friends – whether it’s soaking up some rays at the beach, riding roller coasters at an amusement park during the summer, or even just going on a walk with your pet on a nice afternoon.
Whatever the activity is, it is crucial to remember that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to adverse effects on our skin. Leaving our skin unprotected against the sun can not only lead to short-term problems such as sunburn, but can also lead to the development of long-term problems later on such as skin cancer.
Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, with over 5 million new cases diagnosed each year, and approximately 50% of all new cancer diagnoses. It can take as little as 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to cause lasting damage to the skin. This unprotected exposure is the cause of more than 90% of all skin cancer cases. In addition to the sun, other sources of UV rays such as tanning booths and sun lamps can also lead to the development of skin cancer.
UV radiation is normally at its strongest between the hours of 10AM and 4PM. Areas such as the beach are especially important to note, as areas with sand, water, or snow reflect sunlight and increase the amount of UV light you are exposed to.
The good news however, is that there are a few easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this condition in the first place.
One of the most basic steps to take is to limit the amount of exposure you receive while you are outdoors by staying in shaded areas. UV rays still reach your skin even on days that are cloudy, and some people do receive sunburns due to the assumption that the weather is not hot enough to require skin protection. Wherever possible, opting to shield yourself by remaining in the shade is a good first step to take to limit your exposure to UV rays.
Sunscreen is an imperative precaution measure to take when it comes to protecting our skin. Sunscreen comes in many different forms such as lotions, sprays, balms, etc. Using broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 30+ is highly recommended. A sunscreen with a rating of SPF 30 filters out 97% of UV rays.
Wearing adequate clothing during sunshine is another simple, but effective measure to take. Wearing sunglasses not only protects the delicate skin around our eyes, but also reduces your risk of developing certain eye diseases as well. While ordinary sunglasses block around 70% of UV rays, specially marked pairs of sunglasses are also available that are designated as UV Protective. These pairs block 99% of UV light, so it is good to keep a lookout for sunglasses with this designation.
The earlier skin cancer is detected, the sooner you are able to treat it – and thus, a higher chance of success. Performing a self skin check by looking around your body for any new moles, or changes in existing moles, is a key way to get ahead of any problems. In the event that you notice something new on your skin that may be cause for concern, professional skin checks by dermatologists are also available. A professional skin check is a brief ~15 minute visit that includes a full head-to-toe examination by a licensed physician. Your dermatologist can answer any questions and clear up any concerns you may have, and also has the ability of conducting a biopsy on anything that may be potentially cancerous.
It is highly recommended to have a professional skin check at least once every year (for patients with a medical or family history of skin cancer, twice a year is advised).
Contact us today and meet with California’s leading dermatologists in the treatment of skin cancer. Find us in your preferred location of either Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, and let our experts conduct a professional skin check to ensure your skin is in outstanding condition!