Skin Cancer Prevention: 8 Ways To Minimize Your Risk
Summer is here and that means increased UV rays beaming down from the hot Austin sun. Here are 8 easy and practical sun safety tips we recommend to our patients:
1. Use Sunscreen. Using a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater daily is recommended. Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun to allow full absorption. While in the sun reapply every one to two hours. Make sure to cover commonly overlooked areas like the neck, scalp, and back of hands and ears. Talk to your family physician before using a sunscreen on small children.
2. Avoid Tanning. Individuals who use tanning beds at least once a month have a 55% higher chance of developing some form of skin cancer compared to non-tanners. Go for safer options than sun-induced tanning such as self-tanning lotions or spray tanning. These alternatives create a tan tone by interacting with amino acids of the skin rather than involving melanocytes.
3. Avoid Peak Sun Intensity Hours. Plan your outdoor activities before or after peak hours; typically the hours between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. where UV rays are at their highest.
4. Check Your Skin Regularly. Conduct self-skin screenings on a monthly basis, especially if your family has a history of skin cancer. We recently posted a helpful guide on performing self skin examinations. We also offer professional skin cancer screenings and mole mapping.
5. Avoid Sunburns. Sunburns can cause skin damage that lasts far longer than when the redness goes away. The damage can potentially lead to skin cancer years or even decades later. In fact you double the risk of developing skin cancer if you’ve had five or more sunburns in your lifetime.
6. Cover Up. Wear dark clothing made of tightly woven fabrics (like silk or polyester). Sun-protective bathing suits can help protect the skin while swimming on sunny, summer days. There are also laundry treatment products that give fabric an SPF level of 30 for up to 20 washes.
7. Hats. Hats with a four inch rim or greater can reduce UV exposure of the head and neck by 70 percent. Wearing a hat with a 360 degree brim can provide protection to the scalp, forehead, neck, ears, and eyes.
8. Wear Your Shades. Your eyes are not immune to sun damage. UV exposure can cause ocular skin cancer, which has been on the rise in recent years. Sunglasses marked “meets ANSI requirements” can block 99% of UV rays. Wraparound-style shades are the best for protecting the entire eye area.