The Best Preventive Measures Against Skin Cancer

skin cancer

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer? About 3.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the United States. That’s 9,500 every day. A fifth of the US population will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by age 70. 

Skin cancer is more likely if you’re white because you have less melanin (pigment) in your skin than people of color. As a result, your risk for skin cancer is almost 30 times that of someone with darker skin.

But people with darker skin do get skin cancer. If you have a darker shade of skin, it’s important to get checked regularly, because skin cancer in people of color is frequently diagnosed when it’s already progressed and more difficult to treat. 

Our expert board-certified dermatologists at Seacoast Dermatology are the specialists to see if you suspect you have skin cancer. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, early diagnosis could save your life. 

With that in mind, we pulled together these commonsense guidelines for helping you prevent skin cancer. 

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day

The sun’s ultraviolet light is a carcinogen. Use a high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen every day with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Use a higher SPF number if you’re fair. You can get a sunburn even on cloudy days. 

If you’re going in the water at the beach, pool, or lake, get a water-resistant brand. Apply the sunscreen everywhere on your body that’s exposed. That includes your neck, your ears, your feet, and your head if you have bald spots. 

Use and reapply sunscreen as directed 

You may remember to apply sunscreen before going outside, but do you remember to reapply it if you’re in the sun for a while? Relaxing at the beach or the pool is fun, but getting a sunburn isn’t. 

Read the directions on your sunscreen container. You usually need to reapply every two hours. Set a timer if you think you’ll forget to reapply your sunscreen while you’re having fun in the sun. 

Even though you may get a water-resistant sunscreen, reapply it as directed after being in the water. 

Wear protective clothing and sunglasses

It’s tempting to wear skimpy clothing when it’s warm out. But if you’re going to be out all day, it’s time to invest in clothes with ultraviolet protection. Search for the UPF label. 

Even if you’re not out all day, you can get a bad sunburn in just an hour or two. If you’re working in the yard, wear light clothes with long sleeves and long pants. 

Don’t forget to protect your head and face. Wear a hat with a broad brim. Baseball caps are great, but you need to be vigilant about reapplying sunscreen to your face, ears, and neck if you wear one. 

Avoid tanning beds 

If you’re going to a gala event or a wedding and feel you must have a tan, use a self-tanning product to achieve the effect you want. Stay away from tanning beds. The UV exposure can be more than 10 times that of the sun in the early afternoon hours. 

Those who use tanning beds are six times more likely to have melanoma in their 20s than those who don’t use them.  

Stay in the shade 

Avoid the sun when it’s at its peak between 10am and 2pm daily. If you’re at the beach or the pool, use an umbrella, or better yet, take a siesta, have lunch inside, or go to the movies during that time of day. 

Get checked regularly for skin cancer

Our expert dermatologists know what they’re looking for when they examine you for skin cancer. Make and keep your annual checkup. In addition, if something looks suspicious or a mole undergoes a change, it’s time to make an appointment. 

Contact us at Seacoast Dermatology today to make an appointment for a skin cancer checkup. It can save your life. We’re located in Portsmouth, Exeter, and Dover, New Hampshire.

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