Protect yourself in five ways from Skin Cancer
August 21, 2019
- Sleep: Clothing is our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and protects us by absorbing or blocking much of this radiation. The more skin you cover, the better. A long-sleeved shirt covers more skin than a t-shirt, especially if it has a high neckline or collar that shields the back of the neck. Most people think that if they throw on a t-shirt they are protected. In reality, a white t-shirt provides the equivalent of SPF 4. Choose darker, tightly woven fabrics. Likewise, long pants protect more skin than shorts.
- Slop: Every time that you get a sunburn, your risk for developing melanoma increases. If you have had a sunburn more than five times, your risk doubles. Melanoma causes the majority of skin cancer deaths, so do what you can to avoid sunburns. Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Regardless of what the bottle says, it is a good idea to reapply sunscreen every two hours, as it tends to lose its effectiveness at about this time. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. No sunscreen is truly waterproof, so if you’ve been sweating or swimming, reapply. Also, don’t forget your scalp, tops of your ears and the back of your hands. Peak UV hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you can, avoid sun exposure during these times. If not, make sure that there is shade available and try to hang out there.
- Slap: Summer brings warmth and relaxation. However, long light-filled days at the beach often also mean overexposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can wreak havoc on your skin. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas, which comprise over 90 percent of skin cancers, most often appear on the head and neck. Protect yourself with a hat, ideally one with a brim extending at least three inches all the way around to shade not just the face and scalp but the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Seek: Good-quality shade can reduce UV exposure by up to 75%. When used in conjunction with other forms of sun protection, such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, shade is one of the best ways to protect ourselves from the sun and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Shade from trees or tall shrubs is attractive and has other benefits for the environment, health and wellbeing. Choose trees with a canopy that is dense and closer to the ground to provide the best protection from direct UV. The larger the canopy, the greater protection from both direct and indirect UV.
- Slide: we may expose our eyes to danger every day, simply by going outside. Over time, the sun’s rays can seriously damage the eyes and surrounding skin, leading to vision loss and conditions from cataracts and macular degeneration to eye and eyelid cancers. However, following the simple protective strategies below each day can help keep our eyes and the sensitive skin around them healthy throughout our lives: Wear sunglasses year-round whenever you are out in the sun. Sunglasses should block 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB light.
- Avoid tanning beds forever: Avoid tanning bedsand sunlamps. Both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.
- Make a mole map: A large part of skin cancer prevention and early detection involves regularly scanning your body for moles that could be signs of melanoma or other types of skin cancer.
When making your mole map, remember to look for the ABCDEs of melanoma:
▪ A: Asymmetry
▪ B: Irregular borders
▪ C: Uneven color
▪ D: Diameter larger than the size of a pencil eraser
▪ E: Evolution, or change, in any of the above characteristics