The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention declares each Friday before Memorial Day Don’t Fry Day – the perfect time to refresh your memory on how to keep your skin safe in the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Over 3.5 million new skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year and more than 2.2 million people die from skin cancer annually1. Essentially one American dies every hour from skin cancer2. Every year there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are combined new cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer3. And one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime.
Skin cancer is serious, and often the risks are taken too lightly. The primary source of skin cancer, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, also has immediate harmful effects on your eyes. Long-term effects also include premature skin aging.
Fortunately, most skin cancers are easily avoidable with simple preventative measures. It’s as easy as making small lifestyle adjustments to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation – and never tan your skin. To prevent skin cancer, you should:
- Always use a broad spectrum sunscreen any time you leave the house, even in winter! All exposed skin and your lips should be protected with SPF 30 or higher. Use a generous amount of sunscreen (fill your palm) to exposed skin roughly 15-20 minutes before you go outside.
- Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours as long as you are outdoors. Always reapply after swimming, sweating or drying yourself with a towel.
- Use sunscreen even if the sun is not visible. Its ultraviolet rays are still a threat.
- Keep your eyes safe by wearing sunglasses outdoors.
- Wear protective clothing in the sun, such as a hat that keeps your face, neck and ears shaded. Special SPF protective clothing like lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants are also available.
- Avoid artificial sources of ultraviolet light like sunlamps or tanning beds.
An easy way to remember sun safety is think “Slip, Slop, Slap®… and Wrap.” Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on sunglasses!
You should also carefully examine your skin regularly. Suspicious moles or lesions, or moles or lesions that change in appearance or size should be quickly examined by a dermatologist. We also recommend annual skin screenings so one of our dermatologists can check for any malignant growths. Early detection saves lives!