You’ll hear our dermatologists say, “SPF is your BFF” for a reason: skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer within their lifetime.
Although May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to practice skin cancer and sun damage prevention strategies all year round. Here’s how to keep your skin safe from harmful UV rays this summer and beyond.
Use Sunscreen Daily
Did you know that regular daily use of sunscreen with a minimum of 30 SPF can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40%, and lower your melanoma risk by about 50%? All skin types and tones can benefit from daily sunscreen use, including darker skin tones.
Dark skin is also susceptible to sun damage – it’s just harder to see. Skin cells respond to UV rays by releasing pigment in the form of a tan or a sunburn. These outcomes might be harder to spot on darker skin tones, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Regardless of your skin tone, you should apply sunscreen daily.
Wear Sun-Protective Clothing
While we understand the urge to wear shorts and tank tops daily, try to shield your skin from the sun with clothing whenever possible. Loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts and pants may seem cumbersome in the heat of summer, but they’ll act as an extra barrier between your skin and harmful UV rays.
Don’t Try to Get Tan
When your skin cells are threatened by the UV rays coming at them from the sun, they kick into protection mode, sending darker pigment cells (melanocytes) to the skin’s surface. The pigment helps block UV radiation from hitting the cells below like an umbrella. When more pigment piles up, your skin looks tanner.
UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen, and unprotected exposure to these rays significantly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Tanning, like a sunburn, is caused by permanent DNA damage to the skin. The immune system will attempt to repair the damage done to UV-exposed skin cells, but the repairs are never perfect. Over time, repeated prolonged UV ray exposure can cause mutations in the affected skin cells, leading to premature aging or skin cancer.
If you’re concerned about your existing or potential sun damage or skin cancer, please don’t wait to make an appointment at our practice! Make an appointment at the Dermatology Center of Acadiana by calling (337) 235-6886.