e all want to enjoy the warmer months, but how do you ensure you stay safe?
Whether you're enjoying some rays in your garden or swimming in the ocean, sun exposure can be dangerous. In this article, we'll cover the most common types of skin cancer, the importance of sunscreen, and how to regularly check your skin to make sure you and your loved ones are staying safe this summer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US. While it's usually curable when caught early, it can be deadly if left untreated.
You may have heard of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma before. They are the most common types of skin cancer and make up about 70% of all diagnosed cases.
Melanoma, on the other hand, is a rare type of skin cancer that makes up only 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases. But it's also the most dangerous type: It can spread from your skin to your internal organs (liver, lungs) and even other parts of your body if not treated properly in time.
Sunscreen should be used every single day! Did you know hands are the most common place for skin cancer?
Sunscreen isn't just a summer thing. It should be used every day - regardless of the weather and whether or not you plan to spend time outdoors. In fact, it's recommended that you apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside, even if you don't expect to be in the sun for long periods of time.
When applying sunscreen, you should apply SPF liberally to all exposed skin - and don't forget the hands! Did you know that according to National Cancer Institute, the most common place for skin cancer is actually on our hands? So be sure you are applying sunscreen all over and don't forget spots like your ears, feet, and hands!
Lastly, make sure that whatever sunscreen brand you choose has broad-spectrum coverage (SPF 30 or higher), water resistance (upwards of 80 minutes), and UVA/UVB protection (both types have been shown to reduce risk of skin cancer).
Regular skin checks are important! Here is how you can check yourself at home:
Regular skin checks are important! To check yourself and your family for any unusual skin spots, here is how you can do so. To begin, you'll need to grab a mirror and a flashlight. Then, follow the steps below:
- First, look in the mirror and examine your entire body. Look at the back of your head, face, neck, and scalp.
- Next, turn on the flashlight so that it illuminates an area of skin about 2 inches away from where you are examining (for example: if you are checking your face for freckles or moles on a small area near one eye—illuminate an area around 4 inches away from this spot). Look closely at this illuminated area; do not squint or blink as that may obscure what is being shown to you by the light.
- Observe any spots that appear different than others around them. If there are freckles or moles that have changed color since they first appeared (become brownish/red instead of pink), then they might be signs of skin cancer!
Having the right information will help you and your family stay safe in the sun this summer. Remember, prevention is key. Before venturing outside, check the weather report and prepare with the proper clothing and sunscreen. Most importantly, be smart, be safe, and have fun!