Skin cancer is unfortunately a very prevalent condition that plagues one in five Americans, but the good news is that not only is it preventable, but early recognition and treatment can be curative.
A few simple lifestyle changes can mean a world of difference for your health, so take a few minutes to read these tips and pass them on to your beloveds.
- Stick to the shade. The sun’s UV rays are of two types, type A and type B. UV A rays cause ageing and wrinkles due to skin deterioration while UV B are responsible for permanent damage to skin cells, predisposing them to develop into skin cancer cells. Together, these rays cause damage to the skin that might be irreparable and permanent. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm so look for shade and stay out of the sun especially during these hours.
- Cover up. The best protection from the sun is an absolute block from the harmful UV rays, such as long-sleeves, hats and sunglasses. Let this be your excuse to buy a cute new hat or a fun maxi dress. Sunglasses are also great protection for your eyes. Many people are surprised to hear how prevalent skin cancer is in the eyelid region and the best way to protect this delicate area from ageing and worse, is to wear sunglasses. Also, eye exposure to sunlight has been linked to other conditions affecting vision such as Age-related Macular Degeneration or ARMD. So protect yourself as much as possible.
- Lay it on thick! Don’t forget your sunscreen even if you plan on being out for only a few hours. Sometimes that’s all the exposure needed for people to develop skin cancers especially if it’s a repeated pattern. In fact, you should be wearing SPF 30 or higher every day and it should be reapplied every few hours.
- Love the skin you’re in. Your skin is an organ as vital as your heart. It protects you from the harshest of environments and so undergoes a lot of wear and tear. This together with sun exposure can result in skin cancers so it is very important to give your skin the attention it deserves. Spend a few minutes every month inspecting your skin everywhere, including your back, for new or changing moles and freckles. Be proactive in seeking medical attention if you noteice a change in size, shape or color of any freckle or mole… many times the change could be a harmless ageing process or due to hormonal changes. But it is always better to be safer than sorry. Remember, early detection of skin cancer can make this a totally treatable condition.
- Avoid undue sun exposure and tanning beds. It is not worth it! You are beautiful just the way you are. Your skin is unique just like you and it’s worth taking care of! Take a lesson from all the patients I have treated for skin cancer… they never fail to mention how they regret not having used sun protection in their younger, carefree years.