No matter how healthy you deem yourself to be, you should regularly check for signs of skin cancer every once in a while. Skin cancer knows no color or race, anyone can be affected. But most studies have revealed that light-skinned people are more vulnerable since they usually get a sunburn.
So, what exactly is skin cancer, you ask?
Well, any abnormal growth of cells on one’s skin is what is referred to as skin cancer. When these cells begin to multiply, they become tumors. Tumors can spread to other organs via the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Actinic Keratoses (AK), Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and Melanoma are the 4 known types of skin cancer. The most common types are BCC and SCC. Melanoma is the deadliest among them all and it is crucial for one to detect its warning signs before it spreads.
3 million people are affected by skin cancer every year in the United States. Melanoma accounts for only 2% of that number, but it’s on the rise.
Fortunately, you can protect yourself from any type of skin cancer, you just have to be aware of how to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. This article will outline four tried and tested ways to lower the risk of skin cancer.
ALSO CHECK: Be Careful of These Cancer Signs & Syptoms!
How Can I Lower My Risk of Skin Cancer?
You don’t have to always hide from the sun —you need Vitamin D. But you also don’t have to expose your skin to the sun, its rays can be damaging. So, if you want to avoid being damaged by the sun, here is what you need to do:
Undergo regular screening
Contrary to popular belief, skin cancer screening is not used to diagnose cancer, but to look for skin cancer signs. To diagnose cancer, a test known as the biopsy is used.
You can either screen yourself or get screened at a clinic closer to you. If you self examine yourself and you notice any signs of cancer, you may need to contact your doctor immediately and get screened by him/her.
Skin cancer signs vary depending on the type of cancer, but in most cases, they include:
- A painful mole
- A sore or wound that is taking longer to heal.
- A bump that is red, shiny pink or pearly white.
- A mole that has irregular borders.
- A change in an existing spot.
Sunscreen is really an important part of preventing the sun from damaging your skin. Yes, it cannot be 100% effective at stopping the harmful sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB), but sunscreen can help you avoid premature aging and skin cancer.
Most people do not know this: but they need to apply sunscreen lotion every time they are exposed to the sun. Think of sunscreen as a toothpaste, if you don’t use it correctly or use enough, it's not going to be effective. 30 minutes before you step outside, you have to apply the lotion — a small amount — and reapply frequently because most sunscreens usually break down after two or three hours of being exposed to the sun.
Even if you are to go inside a pool, as soon as you dry off, reapply the sunscreen lotion even if it is said to be water-resistant.
Wear protective clothing
One of the most effective ways of protection against skin cancer and sun damage is your clothing. Unlike sunscreen, your clothing doesn’t wash or wear off and you never have to reapply.
Yes, your clothes shade the skin from ultraviolet rays, but not all clothes fabrics are equally effective. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that the fabric of your clothes should have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30 and above so as to reduce your exposure risk significantly. A UPF indicates the number of UV rays that can penetrate a clothing fabric and reaches your skin.
When you are shopping for protective clothing for skin cancer prevention, below are the factors you should take into account:
- Color: Dark or light colors absorb UV rays, and this reduces the number of rays that reach your skin.
- Content: The material used to make the fabric really matters. Unbleached cotton, Lightweight satiny, shiny polyesters, and high-tech fabrics are more effective.
- Fit: Your clothes do not have to be any tight, it’s best if you opt for loose-fitting clothes.
- Coverage: Consider buying outfits that cover more skin. If possible, go for long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Avoid tanning beds
Just like cigarettes, the more you use tanning beds, the more you increase your chances of developing cancer. Thousands of skin cancer (including the deadly melanoma) cases can be attributed to tanning bed use.
Teenagers and young people, in general, are more sensitive to the UV rays emitted by tanning beds. Besides skin cancer, tanning beds can also cause cancers of the eye —there is actually no good reason for lying in a tanning bed.
You can also triple your chances of developing melanoma if you use sunbeds at regular intervals. So, the use of tanning beds and constant use of sunbeds should be scrapped off your to-do list.
Over to you…
Now that you know how to protect yourself from skin cancer, do your friends a favor and share this article with your friends. You never know, just this one single share on your Social Media accounts can help save a life.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in October 2019.