The Best Skin Cancer Prevention Tips Under the Sun
Posted on 06/05/2014 on behalf of Dr. Kenrick Spence, M.D., F.A.C.S.
By: Jeffrey B. Stricker
Most people are aware that prolonged exposure to the sun and going to tanning salons increase their chances of getting skin cancer. In sunny climates such as Florida, skin care is even more important. But even though most cases of skin cancer are preventable, many men and women still neglect to take steps to protect themselves from harmful UV rays. Let's take a look at some easy ways to lower the risk of getting skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, accounting for nearly half of all cancers diagnosed annually in the U.S. Even though the majority of cases could be prevented, rates of the most serious type of skin cancer, called melanoma, rose nearly 3% each year for the past decade. As a Florida dermatologist dedicated to helping people avoid getting skin cancer, that's a troubling trend.
But still, I know habits are difficult to change, especially when they're part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle that includes outdoor activities. I advise my patients that they can remain just as active and enjoy the outdoors, while following practical routines that limit their exposure to dangerous UV rays. Here are some of my favorite tips that can be easily incorporated into your life:
- Find a sunscreen you don't mind wearing every day. Even the best sunscreen won't help if you don't like wearing it. Try a high-quality sunscreen with moisturizer to replace the lotion you apply just out of the shower. Plenty of affordable options exist now that aren't greasy and that can fit into a regular skincare regimen. Be sure it's a broad-spectrum sunscreen that covers UVA and UVB rays. Once you find the right product, you'll be surprised how easily it fits into your life.
- Try sunbathing and tanning bed alternatives. Cosmetic bronzers come in powders, gels, and sprays and wash off like regular makeup. Sunless tanners last longer and are safe to use. Again, there are lots of affordable products out there that provide a beautiful glow.
- Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications such as antibiotics. Even very common over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen can increase photosensitivity.
- Avoid the sun during the middle of the day. The hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are when the sun's rays are the most damaging. If you're an outdoor jogger, consider exercising earlier or later, when it's also cooler and more comfortable.
- Check yourself regularly. Everyone should routinely check their skin for unusual-looking lesions or moles. We already look in mirrors every day, so all this step requires is a bit of thought. Ask yourself, "Has anything changed?" If you notice a new spot, tell yourself you'll keep an eye on it.
Following these tips, especially for people with fair skin who sunburn easily, will help you avoid developing skin cancer. If you haven't had your skin checked by a dermatologist lately, I encourage you to request an appointment online to come to either our Orlando office or our new location in The Villages.