Because May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
This is our reminder to protect, protect, protect your skin from the sun. We talk mostly about sun protection in terms of avoiding age-accelerating photodamage, but protecting from skin cancer is the other hugely important reason to be diligent when it comes to guarding against UV damage.
It can’t be overstated. The sun is a huge ball of radiation that doesn’t play well with DNA. Here’s what you need to remember as we head into the season of sun and fun.
Watch the clock. Stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest. The rule of thumb, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation is, if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation is stronger.
Don’t get a sunburn! Five or more sunburns in your life doubles your risk for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If you do get a burn, minimize the damage with healing ingredients like whole leaf aloe, which contains more healing properties than the gel alone.
Stay away from tanning beds. These are just UV radiation baths. Statistics show that people who use tanning beds are up to 74% more likely to develop a deadly melanoma and 2.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. The more time in the tanning bed, the greater the risk. Just use a self-tanning cream if the glow is that important to you.
Wear protective clothing. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are a must. And when planning your outfit, remember that darker colors and densely woven fabrics will provide better protection than light colors and sheer fabrics. For outdoor activities, look for specially designed UV blocking clothing.
Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Make it your mantra. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, even when you are not planning on spending much time outdoors. Remember that you are getting sun even when driving. Your car’s side windows do not block UV rays.
Reapply frequently. For outdoor activity, reapply sunscreen every hour or immediately following swimming or exercise that causes sweating.
Take extra care, young ones. Research done in Queensland Australia determined that the majority of skin damage occurred in the early years of sun exposure, with a much slower increase in damage in subsequent years over the age of 50. Most of the worst damage is done by age twenty. Take extra care to protect children, especially babies. Sunscreen can be used on babies six months and older.
Self-exams. Pay attention to what’s going on with your skin. Take a close look at your skin, head to toe, once a month. You’re looking for new moles or changes to existing ones—shape, size, color. If you spot something new, it’s time for a visit to your dermatologist.
See a professional annually. You should have a regular annual skin exam from a professional in addition to your monthly self-exams.
Optimize your skin care regimen for UV protection. That means daily foundational sunscreen, antioxidants, and ingredients that provide photoprotection. Vitamin C and E, niacinamide, rose hip oil, grape seed extract, green tea extract, and aloe are some potent protectors and healers.