Everything You Need to Know About Preventing Skin Cancer

May in Wyoming brings milder temperatures, reminding us that summer is right around the corner. May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to raise your awareness about skin cancer and what you can do to prevent it — before the hot summer rays arrive.  

At Stirling Skin Care Clinic, our team of providers helps the men and women of Casper, Wyoming, protect their skin with our complete line of medical and aesthetic skin care services. We also know that when it comes to skin cancer, prevention is your best defense. 

We’ve created this guide to help you with everything you need to know about preventing skin cancer. Read on to learn more! 

What are the basics of skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring type of cancer in America. About 9,500 American adults are diagnosed with it each day, and more than 4 million Americans face some type of skin cancer each year. 

Skin cancer occurs when cells in your skin are damaged and remain unrepaired. The damage causes mutations in the cells, which leads to rapid multiplication and the growth of malignant tumors. 

There are different types of skin cancer. The four main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and melanoma. All types of skin cancer have the same root cause — harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or other sources (e.g., UV tanning machines). 

Is it possible to prevent skin cancer?

Though you can’t stay out of the sun completely, the good news is that you can do a lot to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. It’s important to incorporate as many tips as possible each day to ensure comprehensive skin protection. 

1. Use sunscreen every day

It’s easier to remember to apply sunscreen when it’s sunny and hot outside. But even when it’s cloudy, the sun’s UV radiation still reaches the earth — and your skin! If you skip sunscreen on overcast or rainy days, you’re inviting skin damage.   

To protect your skin and prevent skin cancer, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB blocking) to exposed areas of your skin and face 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Choose SPF 15 for everyday use and SPF 30 or higher for extended outdoor time. And don’t forget the tops of your hands and feet, the tops and backs of your years, and your lips!

2. Seek shade during peak sun hours

As spring and summer progress, the sun’s peak hours can be the most intense and dangerous times for your skin. Even if you’re wearing sunscreen, seek shade as much as possible between 10 am - 4 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Even in the shade, some UV rays can still reach your skin. Be sure to wear sunscreen or protective clothing if you plan to be out during these peak hours. 

3. Cover up with clothing and accessories

Skin cancer can happen anywhere on your body! In addition to wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun during peak hours, wear protective clothing and sun-blocking accessories. A broad-brimmed hat can help protect your face and eyes, while long-sleeved shirts and pants can keep your arms and legs covered. SPF-rated clothing and accessories add an additional layer of protection. 

4. Don’t forget your eyes

Many people don’t realize that you can develop skin cancer on the eyelids and delicate skin around your eyes. In fact, about 10% of all skin cancers occur on the eyelids. Prevent skin cancer by wearing UV protective sunglasses any time you go outdoors. You’ll also help prevent other sun-related eye issues, like cataracts, corneal sunburn, and macular degeneration. Be sure to choose shades that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB light.

5. Check your skin regularly

Monthly self-checks and annual skin exams with your provider can help catch problem skin issues early. Pay special attention to any scaly patches of skin, unusual looking moles, or new growths. 

Use the ABCDEs to help you spot and discuss any strange-looking moles with your provider:

The team at Stirling Skin Care Clinic provides medical and aesthetic skin care services to help you keep your skin healthy, inside and out. If you’re interested in learning more, contact our Casper office today! 

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