Did you know May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month? With warm weather here, it’s hard to not want to spend time in the sun. Being out in the sun makes our skin glow and everyone a little happier. It can also make us forget the threats that are associated with spending too much time in its’ rays. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. It often goes undetected until it’s too late. Here is everything you need to know about protecting yourself while you enjoy the summer months:
The three most common forms of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light. The UV Index ranks exposure levels to ultraviolet light based on a zero to 15 scale. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing sun protection if the UV Index is a level three or higher. Weather apps calculate the UV Index for when you want to check the ultraviolet levels in your area.
This is an obvious one! You should never be out in the sun without some sort of protection. Your sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. It should also be broad spectrum to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming, sweating and toweling off. Check the expiration date on the bottle to see if it has exceeded its shelf life before using.
Avoid Indoor Tanning:
The use of tanning beds is not safe for your skin and is definitely not recommended. One session in the tanning bed increases the risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent. A tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays, so even getting a base tan is harmful to your skin.
Regular Skin Checks:
When detected early, skin cancer is very treatable. Self-examining your skin for suspicious moles can help you catch it before its too late. Observe the places on your body that receive the most sun exposure like your neck, legs, feet, elbows and arms. Ask a friend for help checking those hard-to-see places like your back and scalp.