You may already know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in America, which is a startling fact even considering that most types of skin cancer are easily treatable. Still, preventing skin cancer from forming in the first place is easy as well, and taking simple precautions and making small changes to your behavior can save you a trip (or several) to the dermatologist’s office. Here’s what we recommend you think about doing to lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
Not everyone needs to see their dermatologist on a regular basis, but people who know they’re at risk for developing skin cancer or who have a family history of other dermatologic conditions should see a dermatologist once a year for a checkup. This way, you have a clinical record of your skin, and your doctor can detect changes in even subtle skin texture, color, or shape of pigmentation that could become skin cancer.
The best cure is prevention, and an annual checkup with a board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Travis Hamblin ensures your skin conditions don’t advance too far to require skin cancer treatment in the first place.
When you’re not spending time specifically in the sun (say, on a beach vacation or at the pool), it’s important to know that what you’re wearing is UV-resistant, because not all fabrics are. Whether you’re working outside or simply enjoying a meal in the sunshine, UV rays can penetrate your clothing and damage your skin even if your skin is fully covered.
Different fabrics come with different protection ratings, similar to sunscreens’ SPF. This is known as Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF. Dermatologists recommend clothing with a high UPF rating for people who may or may not know how long they are going to be outside in the sun.
Although many people seek a darker tone to help their appearance look more attractive, specifically setting aside time to tan, whether in a tanning booth or even on the beach, immediately raises your risk of developing skin cancer. Your skin is more complicated than the shade you see on the surface. Specific types of UV rays go far beneath the surface of skin to damage the DNA and cause everything from wrinkles and freckles to skin cancer.
We recommend using a high-SPF sunscreen, which can still allow you to get a sun-kissed look over time, but helps prevent mutations that can lead to cancerous growths.
Those of us who burn easily know the importance of sunscreen, applied regularly during a day in the sun. But even if you don’t typically get sunburned after sun exposure, that doesn’t mean the UV radiation isn’t affecting your skin cells.
Sunscreen prevents these harmful rays from penetrating your skin’s protective barrier, but it doesn’t last all day. A good rule of thumb is for any sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, you should reapply every 2 hours. If you’re in the water or exercising (water will typically rinse away your sunblock), reapplication should be encouraged even more often.
For the most part, the expert on how your skin looks and feels is you. You know your personal and family history with dermatologic conditions, including skin diseases, as well as how your skin looks on a normal basis. If you notice a change in skin sensation or look, you’re probably going to be the first to notice. Especially symptoms like itching, bleeding, burning, or lesions that won’t heal should lead you to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible.
Although it is the most prevalent form of cancer in the US, skin cancer is thankfully easily prevented and treated in most cases. Dr. Hamblin and his team are here to help you find the best ways to not only protect yourself but also restore your skin’s natural function after a skin cancer diagnosis. Call or contact us online today if you have any concerns about your skin – don’t wait until things get worse.