With global warming and the slow but sure breakdown of the ozone layer, sunbathing can be a dangerous pastime in many parts of the world. Skin cancer is an increasing epidemic, affecting thousands of people each year, but there are steps one can take to prevent it.
One of the first things parents do before a weekend trip to the beach or pool is to smother the kids in sunscreen. Most kids, especially those living in cities that get hot during the summer months, remember that familiar smell of high SPF cream with nostalgia and associate it with tons of fun.
Various forms of skin cancer affect people, and especially those in particularly hot climates or south of the Equator. Melanoma, Basal cell carcinoma, and Squamous cell carcinoma are some of the most common forms of skin cancer and can lead to deadly consequences if left untreated.
The good news is, there are some simple, common-sense tips that you can incorporate into your everyday life to prevent the likelihood of skin issues from the sun.
Tip 1 – Love Sunscreen
If you live in a hot climate or in a place that gets hot in the summer, it’s a good idea to apply a generous amount of sunscreen daily to exposed parts of the skin. Even a slow 20-minute stroll to school or work, if the sun is hot enough, can lead to skin cancer issues. The arms, hands, legs, feet, top of the head and neck are potentially risky areas, and these need to be covered or at least covered in sunscreen. Wearing lots of sunscreens is the number one piece of advice offered by dermatologists to patients or those concerned about skin cancer. Opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ and try to ensure you buy sunscreen, which is “waterproof” and “broad-spectrum.”
Tip 2 – Cover Up
While sunscreen, especially one with a high SPF, is a fantastic (and potentially life-saving) tip, nothing is better than covering up in the sun with garments or material. For people living in the middle-east and Sub-Saharan areas of the globe, the thought of taking one’s clothes off in the sun is a crazy one. In many cultures, the sun is respected and feared accordingly, and people cover up with clothes and headscarves when the sun beats down. Sure, an hour or two on the beach once in a while with the right protection isn’t the end of the world. However, wearing sleeves, socks, broad-rimmed hats, and long pants is always advisable when spending time in the sun. This applies all the more so during the hottest time of the day in summer (12pm-3pm).
Tip 3 – Get Checked Out
Some skin cancers, including melanoma, are hereditary to a degree. For anyone with a family history of melanoma, annual checkups with a skin doctor (dermatologist) are a must. It’s also an excellent idea to self-inspect various parts of the body that show signs of potential skin cancer issues. A self-inspection is simple enough. Simply stand naked in front of the mirror, paying particular attention to the chest, shoulders, and arms, under the arms, and the front of the thighs and calves. Forearms, palms of the hands, and fingers are also areas you’ll need to pay close attention to. If you suspect any strange new moles or itchy skin blemishes, make an appointment with a skin doctor just to be sure.
Take-Away Action Items
- Buy good quality sunscreen which should ideally be “water-resistant” and “broad-spectrum”
- For maximum protection use sunscreen which is SPF 30 and more
- Re-apply sunscreen if swimming or at the beach
- Wear clothes, scarves, and hats when and where possible when in the sun
- Be especially careful when outside during the summer months between midday and 3 pm
- Self-inspect for different or new moles or skin blemishes regularly
- Get checked out by a skin doctor annually