You wear a seatbelt in a car. You use a condom when you have sex. You wear oven mitts when you take something hot out of the oven. So why don’t you use sunscreen when you go outside?
Summer is just around the corner and with that, it’s important for everyone to learn how to take care of their skin and skin cancer rates rates are still going up. This year, melanoma rates in the US are expected to take a major jump. 76,250 new cases will be diagnosed which is 6,020 more than 2011.
Skin cancer is pretty damn preventable if you know how to protect yourself with these tips.
1. Use enough sunscreen. Dermatologists agree; most people don’t use enough SPF to actually protect them. To actually have the SPF level that you see on the label, you need to apply it like a layer of frosting on a cake. Most people use one-quarter to one-half of that amount which makes your sunscreen a third less effective. So your SPF 30 is really SPF 10. Either apply more or get a stronger sunscreen. I use SPF 70.
2. Reapply! If you’re outside, you should be reapplying your sunscreen every two hours or every hour if you’re sweating/swimming. If you’re outside for two and a half hours without reapplying, you’re five times more likely to burn. So don’t forget to reapply!
3. Don’t neglect spots. Most people only really apply sunscreen to their face. You need to apply it wherever the sun is going to be hitting you most intensely; neck, chest, and backs of hands. Not only are you going to be protecting yourself from getting cancer in these areas, but you’re also going to be preventing sun damage that can age you. It causes brown spots and wrinkles that will make you look 10 years older. Simple way to prevent this? Use sunscreen.
4. Accept yourself just the way you are. Our society has a massive tanning obsession. Too many people are desperate to not look ‘pale’ and have that bronzed skin. There is nothing wrong with having fair skin just like there is nothing wrong with having dark skin and all in between. My skin is naturally very fair and I’ve learnt to work it! I’d rather take care of my fair skin than have skin cancer and wrinkles.
5. Skin check. Keep an eye on your skin and the moles you have. If they change, it could be a sign of skin cancer. Here are some simple steps to help you determine what your mole could be:
A: Asymmetry. If one half of the mole is noticeably different than the other, it might be cancerous.
B: Border. If the edges are uneven; they may be scalloped or notched, it might be cancerous.
C: Colour. If you see multiple shades of black, tan, brown, or even red, it might be cancerous.
D: Diameter. If it’s at least the size of a pencil-eraser, it might be cancerous.
E: Evolving. If it’s changed in colour, shape, or size, it might be cancerous.
Bottom line. Keep an eye on your skin and if you think that something might be wrong, get a doctor to look at it. Skin cancer is highly preventable and curable if you know how to protect yourself and spot it.
Have a safe and fun summer.