During the summer season it’s only natural to enjoy the lovely weather and all of your favorite outdoor activities. However, too much time in the sun can take a toll on your health and well-being, resulting in damaged skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer (also known as melanoma). Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US and it affects people of all ages. According to estimates from the American Academy of Dermatology, roughly 20% of all Americans will develop a melanoma in their lifetime.
Thankfully, unlike many other types of cancer, experts consider almost 90% of all skin cancer cases to be preventable. Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays is the leading cause of skin cancer, and although we obviously don’t recommend avoiding sunlight entirely, there are steps you can take to help minimize your risk of developing melanoma, regardless of your age.
- Apply sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin daily, even on cloudy days.
- Make sure to find a sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a SPF of at least 30.
- Apply sunscreen approximately 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply as needed.
- Be careful during peak sunshine hours (typically between 10am and 4pm).
- Try to schedule outdoor activities outside of these hours if possible and find time to seek shade when you can.
- Avoid tanning beds and other forms of artificial UV rays.
- Tanning beds and sun lamps give off UV rays similar to those of the sun.
- Using them can lead to long-term skin damage and dramatically increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
- This is especially true for people who begin using them before they turn 30.
- Perform regular self-examinations for moles and other marks that may appear as a result of overexposure to the sun.
- Seek out the advice of one of our healthcare providers if you notice something irregular during your self-exam.
- Be extra careful with children.
- Young kids typically spend more time outside and have sensitive skin that can burn more easily.
- Parents should teach kids about the dangers of too much sun exposure and get them into the habit of applying sunscreen and following the other guidelines stated above.
The summer can still be a time for enjoying the outdoor activities we all love, and by understanding how to limit the risk of skin cancer, we can hopefully all enjoy the summertime a little more safely. For more information on skin cancer or general health and wellness, please contact Abraham Family Medicine today to schedule an appointment. Our office is located in outisde of Atlanta, GA in Snellville, not far from Grayson.