Spring is here! You may be excited for more sunshine and warmer temperatures, but this time of year is when skin damage becomes more prevalent. Learn six facts about skin cancer, and then take the necessary steps to protect yourself from excessive sun exposure.
More Than 3.5 Million People Are Diagnosed With Skin Cancer Every Year.
Risk factors for getting skin cancer include:
- Blonde or red hair, freckles, and fair skin that burns easily
- A history of excessive sun exposure (your skin never forgets sun damage)
- Tanning bed use
- 50 or more moles (atypical or large moles are especially likely to develop melanoma)
- A suppressed immune system caused by disease or medical treatment
- A personal or family history of skin cancer
Skin Cancer Can Affect Anyone.
While certain people are more at risk for skin cancer than others, anyone can suffer from excessive sun exposure. In fact, people of color are more likely to receive a late diagnosis because they don’t know they’re susceptible to skin cancer until it’s too late. Dark-skinned people are more prone to skin cancer in unlikely areas, such as the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, groin, inside the mouth, and under the fingernails.
Excessive Sun Exposure Is the Number One Cause of Skin Cancer.
A whopping 90 percent of skin cancer cases are attributed to UV light exposure from the sun and tanning beds. High exposure during childhood increases the risk. In fact, a single blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence nearly doubles a person’s chance of developing melanoma.
Indoor Tanning Is Dangerous.
The artificial UV light that darkens your skin in a tanning bed is no safer than UV light from the sun. Researchers estimate that indoor tanning is responsible for around 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Due to widespread tanning among young females, the most susceptible demographic are women under age 45.
Sunscreen and Sun-Smart Habits Can Prevent Skin Cancer.
UV light is the biggest risk factor for skin cancer, and it’s also the most preventable! Follow these top sun protection tips:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen labeled 30 SPF or higher. Reapply every one to two hours, especially while swimming or sweating profusely.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants when outside for long periods.
- Minimize your sun exposure from 10 am to 4 pm when UV rays are at their strongest.
- Seek shade when outside between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Skip the tanning salon.
Skin Cancer Is Curable.
Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are all highly curable—if they’re detected early. Perform a monthly self-exam and visit the dermatologist any time you notice a suspicious mole.