SKIN, SUN AND MELANOMA
written by Bailee Williams
It’s May! That means that April showers brought blooming flowers, the school semester is coming to a close and that it’s Melanoma Awareness Month!
With nearly 5 millions cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in the U.S., it is the most common cancer that affects people of all ages. However, as it is a lifestyle disease, it happens to be the most preventable form of cancer too! With summer just around the corner, be sure to implement a protective skin care regimen to keep you safe in the sun and reduce your risk for skin cancer! Here are some tips to help you get through the summer:
Cover Up! - When going out in the sun, try to shield your skin from harmful UV rays by wearing clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
Seek Shelter! - Find some shade throughout the day, especially during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to limit direct sun exposure when the rays are at their strongest.
Choose the Right Sunscreen! - When looking for sunblock, try to find one that has broad spectrum protection and is at least 30 SPF. All sunscreens block UVB rays, but the broad spectrum protects against both UVA and UVB rays. All broad spectrum sunscreens must pass a test to be labeled as such. Any products that don’t pass will have a label on their bottle, warning that it prevents sunburns, but does not protect against skin cancer or aging.
Don’t Go Crazy On the SPF! - I know some of you feel like you need that 150 SPF when you go out in the sun, but let me drop some knowledge on ya, THE HIGHER THE SPF, THE SMALLER THE DIFFERENCE BECOMES. For example, SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB rays and SPF 30 protects against 97%, good little jump right? But SPF 50 sunscreens have been found to protect against 98% and SPF 100 protects 99%! Sadly, no sunscreen will 100% protect you.
Don’t Fall For the Waterproof Gimmick! - Many sunscreens claim to be waterproof or sweat resistant, but manufacturers aren’t technically allowed to. If a sunscreen says it is, it must specify how long it lasts (40-80 minutes) after swimming or sweating. Sunscreen tends to rub off when you towel dry so it’s VERY IMPORTANT to reapply!
Stay Away From Tanning Beds! - Overexposure to UV rays in concentrated amounts can cause long term skin damage and contributes to skin cancer. If you want a quick glow, spray tans are a must! You can get an instant tan without the potential risk of getting skin cancer! I actually have my own spray tan business if you want to try it out yourself (@spraybybai)!
Perform Self Exams! - Look for new moles, spots, growths, patches or sores regularly and get them checked by a doctor if they change in size, shape or color! You can follow the ABCDE rule to check for signs of developing melanoma:
Asymmetry: Half of the mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other side
Border: The edges of the spot are irregular or ragged
Color: The color of the mole is not the same throughout, may have shades of black, brown with patches of pink, red or white.
Diameter: The spot has grown to ¼ in size (the size of an eraser on a pencil)
Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, color
* Some cases of Melanoma don’t follow these rules exactly, so be sure to bring up any concerns to your doctor about any new or changing moles, spots or patches!
People take such good care of their homes, their cars and even their pets, but what about their own bodies? This is the only body we get, so take care of the skin you’re in!