Summer is here and we are all jumping for joy! The warm weather has many people enjoying time outside with their friends and family. Beach days, bike rides, walks, hiking, swimming in the pool, outdoor BBQ’s and more have everyone spending more time outside. With all the extra exposure to the sun, skin cancer is one of the biggest risks as well as one of the most common types of cancers.
The good news is that it is easily treatable and you can reduce your risk of getting it. The first thing you need to do if you think you have skin cancer is consult with your Doctor so they can determine what kind you have. One way to determine whether you need to seek help is to know your body. Do you have any unusual moles, sores, lumps, markings or any other changes in your skin? If so, these may be a sign of skin cancer and you should go get checked out. A new spot on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. Most moles are harmless and usually develop as a child or in early adulthood. They tend to stay the same shape and size. If you notice a new mole or an existing mole that has changed color, shape or size.
The easiest way to prevent any type of sun damage to your skin is simple, limit your time in the sun. You can either find activities to keep you busy and active inside or if you want to be outside, seek shade to limit your exposure. Some ways to protect yourself is by wearing a t-shirt, hat, and/or sunglasses. You should always avoid any tanning beds or sun lamps. If you are taking any medications, consult with your doctor to find out if they have any negative side effects to sun exposure.
Sunscreen is also an important factor when trying to prevent damage to your skin caused by the sun. It is recommended to use a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) between 15 and 50. The SPF number refers to how long it will take for a person to get burnt. A sunscreen with SPF 15 will prevent you from getting burnt for 15 times longer than usual. For example, if you typically start to burn within 10 minutes of being in the sun, SPF 15 will prevent you from getting burnt for 150 minutes, as long as it was applied correctly. A good rule of thumb is to apply a generous amount of sunscreen every two hours no matter how high the SPF is.
Stay safe and have fun in the sun!