The best way to prevent skin cancer is to reduce your exposure to the sun’s rays. Dr. Robert Young or Dr. Jared Heaton at Rocky Mountain Dermatology in our North Logan, UT, Brigham, UT, or Washington Terrace, UT, encourages his patients to follow these skin cancer prevention guidelines:
- Stay in the shade: When you are outside, always look for the shade -- not just by sitting under an umbrella at the beach or pool. Dangerous sun damage builds up over time so avoid it whenever you can, whether by walking on the shady part of the sidewalk or standing under a tree at the park. But even in the shade, the sun still reaches you. So, don’t schedule outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Also, be extra careful at the beach, pool or ski slopes. Water, snow and sand reflect the sun’s rays and can lead to severe sunburn.
- Cover yourself. Wear a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. While such an outfit may seem uncomfortable to wear on a hot day, clothes may be your best protection against skin cancer-causing rays. Unlike sunblock, fabrics don’t abate, and they remain steady in their protection. You can even buy ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) fabrics that further reduce the amount of radiation that reaches your skin.
- Always wear sunscreen, even if you aren’t prone to burn, because tanning also can lead to skin cancer. The most reliable choice is a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and which provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Young at Rocky Mountain Dermatology recommends you wear it every day (yes, even on cloudy days!), especially on skin not covered by clothing, including the tops of your feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head. While outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Don’t be stingy either. Slather on a liberal amount and be sure not to miss any spots.
- Do not use tanning beds. Even one visit to the tanning bed increases your risk for all types up skin cancer (including deadly melanoma) as well as premature skin aging, due to ultraviolet light. Meanwhile, tanning bed use before age 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Instead of using a tanning bed, consider a self-tanning product (but still use sunscreen!).
- Put monthly skin self-exams and annual cancer screenings on your schedule. By performing regular scans of your skin, you can help detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. If you notice new or suspicious spots on your skin, or moles or spots on your skin that are changing, itching or bleeding, call Rocky Mountain Dermatology to schedule an appointment. Otherwise, if you don’t have any risk factors, such as a history of skin cancer, you should still see Dr. Young annually for skin scans. If you have risk factors, you likely need more frequent appointments.
While these recommendations may seem inconvenient, following them could save your life. Americans have a one in five chance of developing skin cancer by age 70. The best prevention is to minimize your sun exposure and ensure early detection. If you have any questions or notice any worrisome changes on your skin, don’t forget to call Dr. Young at Rocky Mountain Dermatology in our North Logan, UT, Brigham, UT, or Washington Terrace, UT as soon as possible. Dial (435) 787-0560 or (801) 827-9100 today.