May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness MonthSkin cancer is among the most prevalent forms of cancer found in the United States. More skin cancer cases occur annually than all other cancers combined. In most cases, the risk of skin cancer can be greatly reduced by limiting unprotected exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun.

Skin Cancer Prevention

One of the easiest ways to prevent skin cancer is by limiting your exposure to UV light; either from the sun, a tanning bed or sun lamps. Individuals that get extended exposure from these UV light sources are most at risk. There are no safe UV rays, however, exposure can be limited by following these tips:

  • Use Sunscreen – One of the easiest ways to limit exposure to UV rays is by utilizing sunscreen with SPF values of 30 or higher. Sunscreens come in a variety of forms and can often be found in some cosmetic products. However, it is important to note that sunscreen only acts as a filter and does not block all UV rays.
  • Seek Shade – UV light is most harmful during the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. During this period, it is recommended to avoid continued exposure to direct sunlight and instead seek shaded areas if you are outdoors. Avoiding sunlight exposure, even during cloudy days, can help decrease your risks.
  • Dress Appropriately – Different clothing types provide different levels of UV protection. Items that cover more of your skin, such as long sleeve shirts or pants, will provide better protection from harmful UV rays. Many companies now manufacture lightweight, comfortable clothing options that provide UV protection.
  • Accessorize – Certain clothing accessories can provide optimal protection from UV rays when utilized properly. Hats with a brim of at least 3 inches can help protect areas of your head that are most susceptible to skin cancer. Sunglasses that block UV rays can also be utilized to protect the skin around your eyes.

Skin Cancer Detection

It is important to regularly check your skin to identify cancers that may be forming and receive early treatment. There are many doctors that provide skin cancer examinations during routine health check-ups. However, regular self-examinations can help identify any changes that may be appearing.

When examining your skin for the first time it is important to take note of any unique identifiers, such as moles or freckles, to watch for any changes during the next self-examination. If any concerning changes occur, it is important to plan a visit to your health care provider. It is important to check all your skin throughout this process.

The most opportune time to perform a self-examination is after taking a shower or a bath. It is important to check for any potential skin cancer indicators from your head to your toes. Regularly taking note of your own skin will make it easier to identify any potential issues that may occur.

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