Today, May 4th, is National Melanoma Awareness Day, and the month of May is National Skin Cancer Month. Now that the weather is warming up, make sure to take extra skin precautions!
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes (the cells that give the skin its tan or brown color) start to grow out of control. Melanoma is much less common than some other types of skin cancers. But melanoma is more dangerous because it’s much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early. Unfortunately, one person dies every hour from melanoma and people of all skin colors and races can develop the disease.
Unprotected exposure to UV rays via sunlight can be extremely hazardous to your health. It is important to be vigilant about taking care of your skin in the sun because unprotected sun exposure in your youth can turn into melanoma or other skin cancers later in life. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, 1 in 5 people will develop it in their life. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than 5 sunburns at any age.
HOWEVER, there are many precautions that you can take to lower your risk of skin cancer and melanoma, and safeguard your health!
-Apply sunscreen (at least SPF 30) every day in every season – even on cloudy days up to 40% of the sun’s UV rays can shine down!
-If you are going to be out enjoying the sun, apply a generous amount of sunscreen – the amount that would fill a shot glass is enough for your body.
-Reapply sunscreen (especially if you have been in the water) every 2 hours when you are in the sun
-Wear a hat with a brim
-Cover up with protective clothing
-Try to avoid the sun when it is strongest between 11a-3p, stay in the shade when you can!
-Your eyes need protection from UV rays as well, wear sunglasses with UV ray protection
-Choose broad spectrum sunscreen, it protects from UV and UVB rays
-Reflection caution – when you are out skiing the sun reflects off of the white snow, make sure to use plenty of sunscreen! Same when out on the ocean, it reflects off of the water.
-Avoid direct sunlight
-Use lip balm with SPF
-Drink plenty of water
-Check your medications – sometimes medications can cause increased sensitivity to the sun, check with your doctor.
-Never, ever, use tanning beds or tanning lights. There is no such thing as a healthy tan!