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Skin cancer does not get enough public attention compared to others. But skin cancer is common. There are more skin cancer cases than all other cancers combined. About 1 in 5 Americans are at risk of developing skin cancer. Compare that to the 1 in 13 at risk for lung cancer or 1 in 12 for breast cancer. The key is to be skin smart. With some simple steps, anyone can prevent or get ahead of skin cancer.
Conducting regular examinations is the most critical part of cancer prevention. These checks don’t require expensive doctor visits either. Skin checks are a useful and essential step in detecting the deadly skin cancer, melanoma, early. Most melanoma deaths are a result of unchecked patches on the skin.
Doctors often recommend these checks be done monthly and in the comfort of home. Conduct the test after a shower when the skin is cleanest. Use a full-length mirror to examine the skin. Look for strange spots, moles, or blemishes. Check the areas that get the most sun exposure but don’t forget harder-to-examine areas, including hair.
Are any of the marks tender, itchy, or even bleeding? Have these moles or marks grown or changed over the past few weeks? Consult a doctor for any irregular changes. Although other minor skin issues present the same way, one can never be too careful. In addition to monthly checks, add these steps to the protection routine.
Another tip for excellent skin health involves sunscreen. Using sunscreen seems like an obvious solution. But less than 30% of Americans consistently use sunscreen. Skin cancers come from years of assault from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Without that extra layer of protection from sunscreen, the likelihood of skin cancer increases significantly. Start adopting a sunscreen routine today. Get a tube with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen should also have broad-spectrum coverage, be mineral-based, and water-resistant. Apply as often as possible, especially if exposed to sunlight for several hours a day.
Heading outside for some fun in the sun? Then don’t hesitate to cover up. Covering up should not be for cold weather only. Using the right protection during sunny days is just as important. By using hats, sunglasses, or long-sleeved shirts, there’s some added protection against harmful rays. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can still damage the skin over time. On winter days, sunlight can reflect off of surfaces, doubling the exposure. Stay covered up as often as possible all year round.
Research has shown using a tanning bed increases the chances of melanoma by 20%. Even 1 tanning session increases the risk significantly. While tanning beds provide a subtle bronzed look, these machines give a direct dose of ultraviolet light. That tan is the melanin in the skin, reacting to protect from any further damage. Tanning beds damage all skin colors and types.
Monthly skin checks can save millions from dangerous skin cancers. These can be self-checks and a simple pre-cursor before consulting a dermatologist. Along with self-checks, use sunscreen liberally and minimize exposure to harmful rays. Dermatologists can test for any cancers and advise on further steps to stay healthy.