It's easy to shrug off a sunburn as no big deal. Some people don't realize that skin cancer is a serious illness that can be fatal. It's important to do your best to minimize your risk of contracting skin cancer. Here are four ways you can protect your skin.
1. Always wear sunscreen
Sunscreen isn't just for trips to the beach. You may think you don't need to wear sunscreen on overcast days, but harmful UV rays can penetrate cloud cover and damage your skin. Get into the habit of putting on sunscreen every time you leave your house. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should use a sunscreen that offers at least 30 SPF. Make sure you choose a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays; UVA rays cause photoaging, so regular sunscreen use is also a good way to maintain your youthful complexion.
2. Seek shade
The sun changes position in the sky throughout the day, so sometimes it will be more intense. If possible, avoid being out in direct sunlight between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., since this is when UV rays will be the strongest. If you must go outside, cover up and wear a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection. Don't stay outside longer than you have to.
3. Avoid tanning
While tanned skin may look healthy and beautiful, tans are actually a sign of sun damage. UV damage is cumulative, so there's no such thing as a safe amount of tanning. Never use tanning beds and avoid sitting out on the beach to sunbathe. If you absolutely must have a tan, use sunless tanning methods to bronze your skin. Many sunless tanners give great results that look just like the real thing.
4. Get screened for skin cancer
The best way to discover possible skin cancer lesions is through a visual inspection. Moles that are asymmetrical, two colors, or bigger than a pencil eraser should be biopsied to check for cancer. However, it can be hard to check your whole body. This is why annual skin cancer screenings are so important. Your dermatologist will carefully examine your entire body to check for irregular moles that may be cancerous. If they find something concerning, they will perform a biopsy.
Your skin's health plays a vital role in your overall well-being. Sun damage puts you at risk for skin cancer, so follow these simple tips to protect yourself. Remember to go for regular skin cancer screenings for peace of mind and good health.