May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

by Melissa Chichester

In the United States, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. And sadly, nearly 20 Americans die from skin cancer every day. In females ages 15-29, it is the second most common cause of cancer, and just one indoor tanning session can increase risk. It is pretty clear that skin cancer is not something to be ignored.

All people, no matter their age, gender, or ethnic makeup, can practice sun safety by wearing water-resistant sunscreen, protective clothing (like wide-brimmed hats), and getting checked for skin cancer by a licensed physician.

Most people are already familiar with the basics when it comes to the sun, but the American Academy of Dermatology offers other useful tips about sun protection that we have outlined for quick reference below.

  1. Use sun protection whenever you are outdoors, even if it is cloudy or cold outside. Just because it is winter doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen! On a cloudy day, 80% of UV rays from the sun can still reach your skin.
  2. Use sun protection beyond a dip in the pool, lake, or ocean. Sun protection should be used while you’re doing all sorts of activities, including mowing the lawn, gardening, out for a bike ride, and even skiing.
  3. Use a sunscreen that is water-resistant, has UVA/UVB protection, and is SPF 30 or higher. If you are outdoors and sweating, or swimming, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours for the best results.
  4. Sun protection has skin benefits! The appearance of aging skin is often a result of a lack of sun protection. Exposure to the sun can also cause age spots and freckles.
  5. Avoid the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That’s when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most impactful.

If you notice any changes in your skin, especially moles or freckles that change, it is important to consult a dermatologist or your physician to determine the reasons for these changes.