Do you know how to practice safe sun this summer? Start with a healthy dose of shade and sunscreen to lower your risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. It's also one of the most preventable. The number one way to protect your skin is to avoid exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays.
UV rays heat up in the spring and summer. Their strength also intensifies in the middle of the day. That's why it's best to stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., particularly in warmer months.
Shade offers one of the best ways to avoid sun exposure and still enjoy the outdoors. The right kind of clothing can also shade you from the sun and protect your skin. Each time you head outdoors, remember to use a hat, sunglasses and even an umbrella to prevent skin damage.
Slather on the sunscreen
Sunscreen and sunblock come in various forms and formulas. Whether you prefer lotion, sprays or wipes, remember to check the label first. Look for broad spectrum protection that works against all types of UV rays.
For the best protection use a sunblock, like zinc or titanium oxide, to block your skin from UV rays. The sun protection factor (SPF) also makes a difference. A higher number means more protection from sunburn.
Remember, no sunscreen protects you completely. That's why it's important to use sunscreen in combination with other methods to reduce your exposure.
Give your skin a checkup
A monthly self-exam gives you a way to spot changes in your skin for signs of cancer. Follow the ABCDE rule as you look at your skin from head to toe.
Asymmetry – One half of the mole doesn’t match the other half
Border – Border or edge of a mole is ragged, blurred or irregular
Color – Color of a mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, red, white or blue
Diameter – Diameter of a mole is larger than 6mm, about the size of a pencil eraser
Evolving – Size, shape or color of a mole is evolving or changing
If you see anything that concerns you, talk with your primary care provider or dermatologist. You also can schedule a skin screening at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. Our skin experts can look at a concerning spot or give you a total body exam to check for signs of pre-cancerous or cancerous growths. If we see something suspicious, we can take a sample biopsy during the exam.
To schedule a skin screening, contact Goshen Center for Cancer Care, (574) 364-2888
Bo Coody, FNP-BC, offers tips like these and more to patients at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. He provides skin checks and preventive screenings for patients to catch signs of cancer early when more treatment options are available. Bo also serves as part of the radiation oncology team and cares for patients undergoing radiation therapy.