New Englanders are finally shedding their heavy winter coats, and skirts, shorts, and sunbathing are just around the corner. With temperatures on the rise, more skin is being exposed to the sun which increases the risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer. According the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer, affecting more than 3.5 million Americans per year. Fortunately, it is also the most preventable! This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, learn how you can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by adhering to these tips:
1. Limit your time in the sun.
- Especially minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is shining strongest.
2. Use a waterproof sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher when you’re outside.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to allow it to be absorbed.
- Re-apply often: At least once every 2 hours.
- Sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming or sweating. Moisture can wash away even “waterproof” sunscreen, so reapplying is very important.
3. Wear hats, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your body from UV rays.
4. Wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
5. Limit your use of tanning booths, tanning parlors or sunlamps. Opt for spray tans or sunless tanning creams instead.
6. Avoid the sun when taking drugs which make your skin more sensitive to light including antibiotics such as tetracycline, tretinoin (Retin A), sleeping pills and diuretics.
7. Get regular check-ups with a dermatologist.
For additional information on skin cancer and to learn how to recognize symptoms, visit the National Cancer Institute website or read this pamphlet from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.