With the weather heating up, you will likely be spending more time outside with your family and friends. From days spent poolside to backyard barbecues, you rarely want to waste the wonderful weather sitting inside, but all that sun can cause big problems if you don’t protect yourself properly. Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer and is caused by overexposure to UV radiation caused by the sun. With over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed in the US alone, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Follow these tips to keep your skin healthy and be sun smart this summer.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
This one seems simple, but it is your best defense from overexposure to UV radiation. The Skin Foundation recommends using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher (SPF 30 is preferred) every day. You should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out into the sun, and should reapply every 2 hours, and immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
2. Stay Covered
Try to limit your sun exposure during the peak hours of the day (between 10am-4pm) when the sun is highest by seeking shade or wearing clothing to cover skin, such as a hat to protect your face and neck. It is recommended that you take breaks from sun exposure often.
3. Do Not Burn
While no one ever tries to get sunburn, it is important that you do your best to avoid burning. Sun burnt skin is more susceptible to the damaging rays.
4. Avoid Tanning and UV beds
Tanning outside as well as going to a tanning bed is very harmful to your skin. You are exposing your body to UV radiation, which is the primary cause of skin cancer. Instead, you should allow your skin to slowly tan through your daily exposure.
How to Detect Skin Cancer Warning Signs
As is common with many other types of cancer, you should perform a self check of your skin at least once a month.
The Skin Foundation recommends knowing your ABCDEs:
Asymmetry – Check for asymmetrical spots or moles
Borders – Borders of moles should be smooth and even
Color – Most begnin moles are often a single shade of brown. Multiple colored moles could be a sign of skin cancer.
Diameter – Most moles are small in diameter, so if you notice large spots or mole, you may want to get a professional to run some tests.
Evolving – Benign moles tend to remain the same over time. If you notice a mole changing in size, color, shape, or any other differences, such as bleeding, crusting, or elevation, call a professional.
While you can’t avoid the sun (and do need it to stay healthy), you can take the proper steps to protect you and your loved ones while still enjoying the warm weather this summer. Your health should always be a priority, so follow these tips to ensure you aren’t leaving yourself at risk. For more information on skin cancer, visit the American Cancer Association here. For further help staying healthy, call one of our agents at 724-929-2300 to speak about a health insurance plan to fit you and your family or discuss coverage options and receive a free quote today.