May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Water’s Edge Dermatology recommends the following skin cancer prevention tips to have fun in the sun and reduce risk for skin cancer at the same time:
- Generously and regularly apply water-resistant sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more. Make sure the sunscreen is labeled as “broad-spectrum,” indicating it protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating—and use it year-round.
- Use extra caution when taking sun-sensitizing medications or are near water, snow and sand. Some over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, and prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Water, snow and sand can reflect and/or intensify sun rays, making it easier to burn.
- Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants, a wide-brimmed hat that provides more coverage than a baseball hat and UVA/UVB protective sunglasses.
- Seek shade during the middle of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest, and try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day—even when it is cloudy.
- Say no to tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer. New self-tanning lotions and spray booths provide a tan without the risk of cancer.
- Check your entire body routinely and report skin changes to your dermatologist. New growths, changes in existing moles or bleeding on the skin, require an immediate appointment with a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
“As the old saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” says Dr. Platzer. “Say no to tanning beds and always wear sunscreen. And, if you live in sunny Florida, it is critical to have regular skin cancer screenings—and there’s no better time than in May, skin cancer awareness month.”