Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
Southern Oregon is a great place to enjoy sunny, summer outdoor activities. It’s important to remember however, to protect yourself from skin cancer. Many skin cancers are preventable – these guidelines can help you reduce your risk:
Avoid the sun when it's at its brightest: Experts suggest seeking shade whenever possible between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, even in winter or when the sky is cloudy. Contrary to popular belief, tanned skin is not healthy skin.
Wear sunscreen year-round: Sunscreen does not filter out all harmful ultraviolet (UV) but it offers some protection. Use a product with an SPF rating of at least 15, with coverage against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunlight reflects off sand, snow and water; these surfaces can magnify the effects of UV radiation by up to 80 percent!
Apply and reapply sunscreen regularly: Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours once you're outside, more if you go in the water or sweat.
Cover your skin: To protect yourself from the UV rays your sunscreen doesn't block, wear tightly woven, dark-colored clothing that covers your arms and legs, as well as a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck. Sunglasses with UV filters can also protect your eyes, with wrap sunglasses being optimal.
Avoid sunburns: Even one bad sunburn has been shown to increase your risk of skin cancers such as melanoma, so don't take burns lightly.
Avoid tanning beds: The lighting used in these machines can actually be more harmful than the sun — and you don't get the natural protection afforded by clouds.
Know your sun-sensitive medications: Many medications increase the chance of your skin's burning, so check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your meds might make sun exposure more risky.
Check your skin regularly: Look for any new growths, moles, bumps, birthmarks, or freckles, and use a mirror to check your face, ears, neck, and scalp.
Check in with your doctor: If you think you may be at risk for skin cancer, or if you notice changes in your skin during a self-exam, contact your primary care physician.
Children, and particularly infants, are at an elevated risk for skin cancer. Ask your child's pediatrician to examine his or her skin thoroughly as part of each yearly checkup.
Sources: Skin Cancer Prevention; Mayo Clinic. Preventing Skin Cancer; Skin Cancer Foundation.