The seasons change, but sun always remains. Take steps each day to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and resulting damage all year long!
Let’s break down a few common myths about skin cancer:
- It’s more than sun exposure: Besides exposure to the sun, there are other factors that contribute to developing skin cancer, such as biological family history of skin cancer, the vulnerability of your immune system and medications that may affect it, and the use of tanning beds. In fact, UV rays from tanning beds can cause more harm than forays in the sun.
- Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate: Everyone exposed to the sun or any other UV rays is susceptible to developing skin cancer, regardless of the darkness or lightness of your skin. People with lighter skin are more susceptible, but dark-skinned individuals aren’t immune, and those cases often prove more fatal, as the disease can go undetected for longer and progress unknown.
- “Water-resistant” sunscreen doesn’t mean water or sweat proof : In fact, the FDA actually prohibits companies from using certain misleading terms, such as “waterproof,” “sweat proof,” or “sunblock,” as no product is 100% defensive from the sun. If you’re going to be outside for a prolonged amount of time, sunscreen needs to be reapplied multiple times a day, and especially after going in the water.
- The sun poses a risk in all seasons: Being outside in the sun during the fall or winter can leave you just as susceptible to skin cancer as in summer. And remember: even brief periods of sun exposure can add up and lead to cancer.
Tips for prevention:
- It’s no surprise, but limiting sun exposure is the best way to reduce your chances of skin cancer. If you’re concerned about vitamin D deficiency—as vitamin D can be especially detrimental to seniors and women at risk for osteoporosis—know that there are other ways of vitamin D intake, such as a supplement or diet change.
- Reapply sunscreen. As mentioned above, water-resistant doesn’t mean water-proof or sweat-proof. Reapplication is a must.
- Check your skin regularly. This isn’t a preventative measure necessarily, but catching cancerous spots early can increase your chances of recovery.
If you’ve already struggled with skin cancer in the past, be overprotective of your skin when outdoors, as individuals who have already had melanoma are far more susceptible to developing it again. Stay cool in the shade and wear sunglasses that provide UV protection –– did you know your eyes can get sunburnt as well? Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and reapply it every two hours!
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