Skin Cancer: What You Need to Know Now

Little girl wearing sunglasses smiles up at the sun.Summer is almost over, but people, especially those who live in Utah, like to get outdoors all year long. With Utah’s high elevation, we are even more susceptible to damaging UV rays form the sun.

Whether your’re making great memories at the pool, or on the snowy slopes of one of Utah’s many ski resorts, how you choose to protect yourself from the sun will impact your skin’s health in the not-too-distant future.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime.” That means if you have a family of five or more, the odds show that at least one of you will get skin cancer.

Let’s lower that statistic. Let’s keep ourselves and our loved ones from going through the pains and dangers of skin cancer by being smart about how we protect our skin.

Stay out of the sun

The best way to prevent getting skin cancer? Stay out of the sun. Many people believe that when they put on sunscreen they are completely safe when, in reality, sunscreen does not protect the skin from all harmful UV rays. This means you should stay in the shade, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

When you do have to go out in the sunFront view portrait of a woman with sun cream on her face

The American Academy of Dermatology strongly suggests using sunscreen that:

  1. Is SPF of 30 or higher
  2. Has broad spectrum protection
  3. Is water-resistant

Don’t skimp on applying sunscreen

Always apply generously on all exposed skin, and reapply every 2 hours. If you or your family are in the water, you will have to reapply more often. Read the label on your sunscreen to find out when to reapply.

Stay looking young

Decreasing your chance of developing skin cancer isn’t the only reason to make sure to apply that sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation states, “People who use sunscreen daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.” So, applying that sunscreen every morning and reapplying during the day will not only keep you healthier, but keep you looking young for longer.

Don’t forget

  • Eyes can can also develop cancer from sun damage so protect them by wearing glasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption.
  • Protect your lips by using lip balm with sun protection. Look for a good lip balm with at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum protection to wear year-round.
  • Remember, even on those cloudy days when the sun doesn’t seem so dangerous, UV rays travel through clouds. So, put on your sunscreen even when the sun isn’t shining.

Never go indoor tanning—ever.

With options like spray tanning and tinted lotions, there is no reason to ever lay in a tanning bed. “More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking” (Skin Cancer Foundation). This scary statistic helps to put the dangers of indoor tanning in perspective.

The very real dangers of skin cancer apply to more than those who go tanning regularly. It only takes one time to dramatically increase your chances of getting skin cancer. According to the SCF, “Just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent.”

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, which means that by just going tanning once you are increasing your likelihood of developing deadly skin cancer by 20 percent. Indoor tanning is not worth the risk.

Kids playing in a water fountain.

Be sun smart

Give yourself and your family the best gift possible, a healthy future, by being smart about how you protect your skin. Learn more at:

 

Images courtesy of Boudewijn Berends,  earthlydelights, and Ian D. Keating via flickr.