4 Tips to Protect Your Skin This Summer

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As our largest organ, skin protects our bodies from germs and regulates body temperature. Protecting it from risks such as skin cancer requires lifelong self care. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US, with nearly 100,000 Americans diagnosed with melanoma each year.

While sunscreen and limiting time in the sun offer the best protection, here are other summer skincare tips.

1. Visit the dermatologist regularly.

Schedule a visit to the dermatologist along with other annual wellness appointments.

Like with most cancers, early detection is key. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99% when detected early. Regular skin screenings allow doctors to check for moles, rashes or other changes from year to year. Request a full-body screening.

2. Know what to look for.

There are three major types of skin cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma—the most common and curable skin cancer. It may present as open sores, white waxy scar-like lesions, red or brown scaly patches, shiny bumps, scars or growths with slightly elevated and rolled edges on areas of the skin typically exposed to the sun.

Squamous cell carcinoma—the second most common skin cancer may present differently on different people as scaly red patches, open sores, rough thickened wart-like skin or raised growths with a central depression. It may itch, bleed or crust over. Along with exposed areas, this type cancer can appear inside the mouth, on genitals or beneath a nail. Smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and a weak immune system are also sometimes associated with squamous cell.

Melanoma—less common and the most serious type of skin cancer. It often presents as a change in an existing mole. As a guide, look for A: asymmetry with half of the spot unlike the other half; B: border that is irregular or poorly defined; C: color varies from one area to another; D: diameter 6 millimeters (pencil eraser size) or larger; E: evolving with changes in appearance.

3. Wear sunscreen and know the acronyms.

Research from AAD shows that having five or more blistering sunburns between ages 15 to 20 increases the risk of melanoma by 80%.

Wear sunscreen daily and use broad-spectrum sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays.

The sun protection factor (SPF) in sunscreen refers to the amount of rays that it blocks. Most dermatologists recommend at least SPF 30, which blocks about 97% of rays.

4. Just don’t do it.

Tanning beds and sunlamps emit UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer, skin burns and premature skin aging, as well as eye damage. Quick tans aren’t worth the risks of long-term damage.

Other resources:

A skin cancer image gallery on the American Cancer Society website can help identify skin spots and marks that indicate cancer. If anything appears suddenly, changes in shape or causes concern, schedule an appointment with a primary care physician or dermatologist.

Thibodaux Regional Cancer Institute has more information about skin cancer screenings at https://www.thibodaux.com/centers-services/cancer-institute/cancer-screening-information/ or call 985-493-4008.