Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Protect Yourself with These 3 Tips
Skin cancer can be deadly if not diagnosed and treated before it is too late. While meeting with a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help diagnose and provide treatment options if you think you may have skin cancer, it is important to learn these three tips to reduce your risk of getting it in the first place.
Tip #1: Avoid UV Radiation
It seems that when the sun is shining, everyone instantly feels better. While we enjoy the sun’s warmth and light and want everyone to feel good from it, it is important to make sure you are wearing proper clothing and sunscreen to protect from the sun’s UV radiation. Not only should we protect ourselves when the sun is out, but also on cloudy days when you cannot see the sun. Even though you can’t see it, the sun is still working to damage our skin through the clouds. In fact, this is when most people get sun damage. Because they don’t see the sun, they forget to wear sunscreen and proper protective clothing.
The sun, shining or not, is most damaging to our skin during the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. It is especially important during this time to wear sunscreen on any exposed body parts and your face. Sunscreen should be a UVA sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Additionally, during these hours, try to find shade that can help protect you from the sun’s damaging rays. UV light is also damaging from the “fake sun,” also known as a tanning bed.
Tip #2: Learn Your Skin Type
No two shades of skin are the same. Depending on your skin type, you can be at a higher risk or lower risk of getting skin cancer and therefore need to take different precautions. There are six skin types ranging from very fair to very dark. Those with fair skin tones are at a higher risk for sunburn and sun damage, meaning they are at a higher risk for skin cancer. If your skin is considered “very dark,” you are still at risk of getting skin cancer and should still take precautions against the sun and UV damage.
Tip #3: Photosensitivity
Photosensitivity is considered an unusual reaction when your skin is exposed to UV radiation from sunlight. It can be caused by medications, medical conditions, or genetics. The reactions include being photoallergic or phototoxic and each increase the risk of getting skin cancer. If you have photosensitivity, you have a high risk of getting skin cancer. A phototoxic reaction is the most common and occurs when an oral or topical medication is taken and activated by exposure to UV light. The exposed skin becomes reactive almost immediately and a sunburn occurs. A photoallergic reaction occurs when UV rays interact with certain ingredients in medications. This reaction appears in the form of blisters.
Avoiding the sun, knowing your skin type, and knowing if you have photosensitivity are three ways to reduce the risk of skin cancer. If you are concerned about having skin cancer or need additional tips on how to protect yourself and live in Bloomington, Illinois or its surrounding areas, contact us. Our dermatologists will give you a proper diagnosis and begin treatment if needed.