Summer Skin Safety
Did you know skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States? Preventing cancer is one of the many reasons that skincare is so important in the summer. Hannah Robinson, RN, BSN is an Oncology Nurse Navigator at the Centra Alan B. Pearson Cancer Center, and she shares some tips on how to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays and the most powerful tools for early detection of skin cancer.
Tips for avoiding sun exposure
- Stay in the shade, especially during the late morning and early afternoon when the UV rays are strongest.
- Try to cover your skin with long sleeves and hats that provide shade to the face, head, and ears.
- Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 or higher to block UVA and UVB rays.
We usually think about the importance of sunscreen during a summer day by the water, but don’t forget sunscreen for walks, sports or other outdoor activities when we aren’t able to stay in the shade. Skin damage can happen in as little as 15 minutes if the skin is not protected.
While skin cancer has many risk factors, reducing your exposure to UV rays will lessen your risk of skin cancer. Every time you tan or burn, you’re increasing your risk for skin cancer.
Skin exams – a powerful tool in early cancer detection.
We recommended annual skin checks by a dermatologist as well as monthly self-skin checks to look for any changes or abnormalities. The links below are helpful for self-skin checks.
This link is images of different skin abnormalities and explaining each picture:
This link is how to do a self-skin exam and here are some bullet points from the American Cancer Society on when to get things checked out.
- “A new, expanding, or changing growth, spot, or bump on the skin
- A sore that bleeds and/or does not heal after several weeks
- A rough or scaly red patch, which might crust or bleed
- A wart-like growth
- A mole (or another spot on the skin) that’s new or changing in size, shape, or color
- A mole with an odd shape, irregular borders, or areas of different colors”
Test your knowledge
Here’s a fun quiz about skin cancer provided by the CDC to test your knowledge.
If you find something on your skin that concerns you, your primary care doctor can perform an exam and make a referral to a dermatologist if appropriate. They can do a more thorough exam and follow up with a biopsy if necessary. If you don’t have a primary care physician, contact a dermatologist directly.