Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. Skin cancer affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk.
Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
Follow these tips to protect your skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure and reduce your risk of skin cancer:
◾Apply sunscreen. When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30. Use these tips when selecting a sunscreen .
◾Use one ounce of sunscreen, an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don’t forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears, and the top of your head.
◾Seek shade. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
◾Protect your skin with clothing. When going outside wear a long‐sleeved shirt, pants, a wide‐brimmed hat and sunglasses.
◾Use extra caution near water, sand or snow as they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
◾Get vitamin D safely. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.
◾If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it. Don’t use tanning beds. Just like the sun, UV light from tanning beds can cause wrinkling and age spots and can lead to skin cancer.
◾Check your skin for signs of skin cancer. Your birthday is a great time to check your birthday suit. Checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
You can catch skin cancer early by following dermatologists’ tips for checking your skin.
- Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then
- Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper underarms and palms.look at the right and left sides
- Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.with your arms raised.
- Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.
- Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
If you spot anything changing, growing or bleeding, see your dermatologist.