Many people still choose to ignore information on how to prevent skin cancer, despite recent discoveries involving the increasing dangers of the disease. For instance, studies show that in the more than 3.5 million skin cancer cases diagnosed each year, 90% are caused by UV damage from the sun or tanning beds. Even though you may feel like you look better with a tan, too much exposure to UV rays can cause serious skin damage and can potentially mutate DNA into cancer cells, even when you don’t actually get a sunburn.
With this in mind, we’d like to offer a few tips on how to prevent skin cancer so you can enjoy the sun and protect yourself at the same time:
- Always wear sunscreen – The higher a sunscreen’s SPF (Sun Protectant Factor), the more UV rays it successfully filters out. You should be wearing sunscreen with at least 15 SPF whenever you’re exposed to prolonged sunlight, and ideally you should use one with a higher SPF if you’re spending long periods outside. Be sure to reapply at least every 90 minutes, especially if you’re swimming.
- Cover up – Wear protective clothing when you go outside, like wide-brimmed hats, cover ups, and sunglasses.
- Don’t burn – A common misconception is that a sunburn will eventually “turn into a tan” — this is not true. Once your skin is burned, the damage is done, and it won’t turn into anything but new skin. The more you burn, the higher your risk for developing skin cancer.
- Avoid peak sun hours – The sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., so either avoid outdoor activities during these times or be extra careful about covering up and applying sunscreen.
- Avoid tanning beds – The bulbs used in many tanning beds give off more than 12 times the UV rays of the sun, which is why you tan so much faster in a tanning bed than you do outside. People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop some form of skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Treatment
It’s important to follow these steps to help prevent skin cancer, as well as following up with your dermatologist if you have any growing concerns. Here at Boulder Plastic Surgery, we specialize in the treatment of skin cancer, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment today.