Skin cancer is the most common cancer in our country; one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Yet skin cancer it’s also among the most preventable cancers.
May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The team of experts at Limmer Dermatology wants to take that as an opportunity to help you protect your skin and stay safe from the sun’s harmful rays.
Your skin has a complex relationship with the sun. Your body absorbs sunlight to make vitamin D, which is vital for bone health. However, the sun also delivers ultraviolet (UV) rays. These spectrums of light can be as harmful as they are helpful, even causing acute and long-term health issues.
The outer layer of your skin contains melanin pigment. This substance naturally protects your skin from UV ray damage, and you can also thank it for giving your skin the tanned, sun-kissed glow after spending time outdoors.
But excessive UV ray exposure without additional protection, like a high-quality sunscreen, can also cause your skin to burn. And these burns don’t stay on the surface of your skin. Instead, they penetrate into the deeper layers, causing cell damage or death.
Experiencing frequent burns from unprotected exposure to the sun's UV rays is the leading cause of skin cancer.
The number one thing you can do to protect your skin from the sun is to invest in a high-quality sunscreen, preferably 30 SPF or higher. Our team can recommend the right sunscreen type, strength, and brand based on your individual needs, especially if you have existing skin issues.
Additional tips for protecting the health of your skin include:
It’s not only crucial to use sunscreen, but you have to use it right. Remember, when you’re spending time outside, swimming, or sweating, you should reapply your sunscreen every hour.
You also need to make sure you cover every area of exposed skin, including your feet, neck, ears, and back. When in doubt, ask a friend for help applying sunscreen where you can’t reach.
It may seem counterproductive to wear extra clothes when the mercury rises, but it’s essential to do just that to protect your skin.
Look for loose, lightweight options that cover the exposed areas of your skin, including your arms and legs. We also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, face, and ears from unnecessary sun exposure.
The sun is strongest in the early afternoon, making it most dangerous for your skin. If you don’t have to be outside, we recommend staying indoors. When you can’t avoid it, try seeking out areas with shade, like under an umbrella or trees. And, remember, don’t forget to put on your sunscreen and protective clothing.
Unfortunately, trading the real thing for a lamp doesn’t make your tan safer. Tanning beds use UV rays that damage the skin the same way as the sun, increasing your risk of sunburns and skin cancer.
Early detection is key in treating health problems, including skin cancer. Take time to examine your skin carefully to learn what’s normal for you and what isn’t.
Our team can guide you through this process so you can learn to confidently watch for signs of discoloration, irregular moles, or other abnormal changes. You should also schedule regular skin checks with your provider.
In many cases, regular skin checks identify problems in their earliest stages. And, with quick intervention, we can often treat many skin conditions successfully, including cancer.
To schedule a professional skin evaluation, our office in San Antonio, Texas, or request an appointment online.