Steps to Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer
Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays is the first step in skin cancer prevention. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns, so don’t skimp on the sunscreen, and don’t forget to protect your scalp and ears.
For proper sunscreen use, it should be applied 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapplied every two hours of being in the sun. The sun’s rays are most intense between 10:00am and 2:00pm so try to stay out of the sun during this peak time.
The FDA recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher to all uncovered skin. Regular daily use of SPF-15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40% and lower your melanoma risk of 50%.
Clinical studies have not determined that daily use of sunscreen can lead to vitamin D insufficiency. Studies actually show that people who use sunscreen regularly can maintain their levels of vitamin D.
Depending on the strength of your sunscreen, anywhere from 2%-7% of solar UVB rays are still reaching your skin, giving your body the opportunity to manufacture vitamin D.
While it’s important to check yourself at home often, getting an annual skin cancer screening by a professional can be instrumental in identifying any suspicious lesions and treating them early.
Scheduling your yearly fully body skin exam with a dermatologist is the most important step in detecting skin cancer.
Melanoma can be found anywhere on the body, and are sometimes overlooked on self-exams, especially on the back or scalp.