We’re all experiencing the benefits of extra sunshine that come with the spring and summer months, but too much of the sun’s harmful UV rays can lead to the most common — and most preventable — form of cancer in the U.S. Skin cancer impacts more than five million individuals who are diagnosed each year, but several efforts can help reduce your risk. 

Here’s more of what you need to know about skin cancer awareness, and how to protect yourself and your family.

What Are the Warning Signs of Skin Cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma — skin cancer’s most dangerous form. Monitoring your own skin is one way to recognize any changes that may require more serious attention.

 “If you’re unfamiliar with the moles, birthmarks, scars and blemishes on your skin,” advises ((UHA HEALTH EXPERT XXX)), “take time to do a personal skin check, or ask for a baseline checkup with your doctor or dermatologist, so that they can look for early signs of skin cancer, such as red, scaly lesions, waxy bumps, or irregularly shaped moles.” 

You can also help spot early warning signs of melanoma by keeping these ABCDEs in mind:

  • A – Asymmetrically shaped moles
  • B – Moles with scalloped or uneven Borders
  • C – MultiColored moles with varying hues 
  • D – Moles with a Diameter larger than a pencil eraser, or a Darker tone than other moles
  • E – Evolution in size, shape, and color, or bleeding and itching issues.

What Are Some Skin Cancer Risks?

Prolonged and extensive exposure to UV rays from either the sun or indoor tanning beds is one of the biggest risks for skin cancer. If you have light skin that burns easily, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair, or are over 50, you may also have increased risk. And like many cancers, having a family history of skin cancer can increase your chances of developing it. 

While weighing all of these risks, however, keep in mind that skin cancer can develop in people of any age or skin color. 

How Can You Prevent Skin Cancer?

Though skin cancer can affect any of us, there are several ways to prevent it based on your lifestyle and personal needs.

Seek the Shade

One of the easiest ways to avoid the sun’s harmful UV rays is to stay out of it. During the brightest parts of day, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., find yourself a shady spot, or locate your activities indoors.

Stock Up on Sunscreen

Getting into the habit of wearing sunblock daily is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer. Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can reach your skin. They can also bounce from water, glass, sand, and even concrete to reach your skin. 

When choosing your sunscreen, at minimum seek a broad spectrum product, with an SPF of 15 or higher. If you are frequently in the sun, or have one or more risk factors, you may want to find one with both UVA and UVB protection, and SPF 30 or higher

Concerned about how the ingredients of sunscreen may impact your health or the environment? Recent, but inconclusive, studies have been conducted to review the safety of two key sunscreen ingredients: oxybenzone (BP-3) and octinoxate (OMC). The FDA has also recommended further research on a total of 12 sunscreen ingredients that may be absorbed into the bloodstream and thereby impact your health. Until strong correlations between these ingredients and specific health dangers are drawn, however, experts strongly caution against halting sunscreen use.  

Cover Up

If you’re still concerned about frequent sunscreen usage, turn to hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, lightweight pants or long skirts, long-sleeved shirts, or clothing specifically designed to protect against UV rays to provide coverage. 

If you still have questions or concerns about skin cancer and its prevention, call us at 762.356.4933 to set up a consultation. Our integrated care system ensures that every individual receives care in every season of their health journey