May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. While sun protection is a priority year-round, Skin Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of practicing sun safety. As warmer weather approaches, many Floridians will spend more time participating in outdoor activities, and as a result will be exposed to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Every year, skin cancer diagnoses outnumber new cases of all other types of cancers combined, including breast, colon, lung, and prostate. *Roughly 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 85 percent of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. ** Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. By protecting yourself from the sun, and visiting a dermatologist for an annual skin exam, you can significantly lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin cancer prevention and early detection can help save lives. By following just a few simple sun safety tips, you can protect yourself from a skin cancer diagnosis.
Quick Tips for Sun Safety
Plan Ahead & Pack a Bag
Whether you are running errands, weeding in your garden, taking a dip in the pool or a stroll on the beach, you should have a summer sun safety bag with you. A few important items to always have with you are:
- Long-sleeved, lightweight shirt and long pants with built-in UPF protection
- Hat with a wide brim
- Sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays
- Broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
- Chapstick with an SPF of 30 or higher
By having these items in a pre-packed bag, you’ll lessen your chances for being unprepared, no matter what activity you are taking part in. Keep the bag near your front door so it’s easy to grab when you are on the go.
When you can, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., try to stay under shaded areas since the sun’s UV rays are strongest during that timeframe. Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen all over your body 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapply at least every two hours to all exposed skin. It’s also important to note that even when it’s cloudy or overcast outside, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation can damage your skin. ** Layering sunscreen and protective clothing will greatly decrease your chances of exposure to harmful UV rays.
Avoid Tanning Beds
Research suggests that even one indoor tanning session can increase users’ risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent. ***
Perform a Self-Skin Exam & Visit a Dermatologist
Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers (FLDSCC) recommends that you regularly perform a self-exam by checking yourself in the mirror and looking for any new, unusual, or changing areas, and reporting those to your dermatologist right away. An annual skin exam can also help identify suspicious growths, moles, and other dermatologic changes. Areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun are more prone to develop moles or certain growths, and because of this, it’s especially important to have an experienced dermatologist or licensed medical professional conduct a yearly body analysis to check all areas of your body, including your scalp, neck, and back. FLDSCC, along with The American Academy of Dermatology recommends conducting annual skin exams to look for the ABCDE’s of skin cancer.
Early detection and prevention are the most important defense mechanisms against developing skin cancer. A proactive today ensures a healthier tomorrow – are you ready to make a difference for the future of your skin? Join us in observing Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May and take charge of your skin’s health today!
Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers provides a full spectrum of dermatology and skin care services, and its team of physicians, APRNs, and PAs are experts in diagnosing and treating skin cancers with the latest technological options. Medical Director, Dr. K. Wade Foster, is fellowship-trained in Mohs surgery, the most effective technique for most types of skin cancers, with minimal scarring or risk.
For more information about services that Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers provides, or to make an appointment for a skin exam, visit www.fldscc.com or contact us at (855) FLD-SKIN.
* American Cancer Society facts and figures 2021.
**Skin Cancer Foundation facts and figures 2021.
*** American Academy of Dermatology Association facts and figures 2021.