Keep your skin safe from the sun
Taking care of your skin is important no matter the season. An estimated 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day and it remains the most common cancer in the U.S.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month. While it appears that people be spending much of our spring and possibly early summer at home due to COVID-19, it’s important to always protect your skin from harmful sun exposure. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Dr. Amy Brodsky, a dermatologist in private practice at The Derm and on staff at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, provides crucial tips to avoid sun damage to your skin.
- Wear sunscreen: This is the most important skin care tip. Wear sunscreen every day, preferably mineral based, and reapply every two hours. Mineral based sunscreen blocks more UVA and UVB rays than chemical sunscreen. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go outside, so the chemicals have a chance to absorb into the skin and prevent sun damage. Reapply every two hours for maximum protection and use 1-2 oz, or the size of 2 eggs, for the suggested amount.
- Treat your sun damage: Use antioxidants, retinoid and sunscreen and seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Two blistering sunburns can increase your chances of skin cancer by 50%. If you do get it, seek dermatology guidance.
- Hydrate your skin: Moisturize your skin with creams instead of lotion and retinoids and antioxidants in the evening.
- Wear sun-protected clothing: Wear at least a four-inch brim hat for maximum sun protection. For each inch brim, you decrease your risk of skin cancer by 10%, so a 4-inch brim hat decreases the risk of skin cancer by 40%. Baseball hats do not prevent sun damage to the sides of the face or the ears. The best sun protective clothing is made with cotton, bamboo, and spandex mixed with zinc oxide.
“It doesn’t matter if you are living in sunny Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin or just going to the grocery store from your car,” says Dr. Brodsky. “Wear sun-protective clothing and put on sunscreen. Most of the sun damage happens before age 18 so it’s imperative for parents to educate children at an early age about sun exposure.”
Examine your skin head-to-toe every month and schedule an annual exam with a dermatologist.
What should you look for in the self-exam?
• A mole, birthmark, or brown spot that is increasing in size
• An open sore that does not heal in three weeks
• A growth that increases in size and is brown, tan, black or multicolored
“Self-examination is a simple, yet powerful way to save your life,” says Dr. Brodsky. “When caught and treated early, skin cancer is highly treatable.”
About the Author
Neda Veselinovic, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She has more than five years of public relations experience and most recently worked with clients in the travel and hospitality industries. She prefers to spend her time with a cup of coffee and a good read and always welcomes book recommendations.