What can I do to protect my skin this summer?
The easiest way to prevent skin cancer (and older, drier looking skin) is to avoid being in the sun during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.
People can reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer by utilizing sun smart practices such as seeking shade, wearing sunscreen and protective clothing are the most effective methods for decreasing one’s risk.
Use a lip balm and lotion to prevent lips and face from chapping and flaking. A cream may be better to use than a lotion because they are thicker and richer in moisture. Find one with an SPF and you’ll also protect your skin from harmful rays that are dangerous. Many organic and natural brands sell moisturizing, gentle soaps made with essential oils and healthy plant extracts. Stick your lotions in the refrigerator, applying cold products can constrict capillaries and reduce redness of the skin.
When your skin is dehydrated it becomes more vulnerable to damage. Keep your fluid consumption consistent by drinking eight glasses of fluid, preferably water, a day.
Be sure to cover up exposed areas of skin by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses that wrap around the eyes, and appropriate clothing to cover arms and legs. Densely woven and bright-or-dark-colored fabrics offer the best defense. The more skin covered, the better, so choose long sleeves and pants whenever possible.
Additionally, frequent self-checks and regular visits to a dermatologist are the best methods for identifying potential problem areas and treating them before they worsen.
Don’t forget to protect these typically missed spots!
Eyes Lids – Over 10% of skin cancers occur on the eyelids. Look for sunscreens specifically made for sensitive skin and delivers broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection.
Feet and Hands – The tops of hands and feet are very sensitive and burn easily, yet mostly ignored as people apply sunscreen to major areas like the arms, legs and chest.
Neck and Ears – Part of arguably your body’s most important area, the head, the neck and ears are often forgotten when it comes to sunscreen since they can’t be seen without a mirror.
Scalp – Seek shade or wear a broad-brimmed hat made of tightly woven material. You also can put sunscreen on your head, which may be easier if you are bald. Otherwise, you can use a spray sunscreen.
Lips – Cracking lips can be painful. Keep them hydrated and protected like you do for the rest of your body. Also, be sure to reapply lip SPF protection after eating and drinking.
What should I look for on my skin when doing self-checks?
Be aware of the following symptoms and any suspicious growths or marks on the skin. Check yourself often and if any of the symptoms are present, see your dermatologist as soon as possible.
• A small lump (spot or mole) that is shiny, waxy, pale in color, and smooth in texture
• For pigmented lesions (moles) look for the ABCDE’s: Assymmetry, Border Irregularity, Color Irregularity, Diameter >5mm, Elevation/Evolution
• A sore or spot that bleeds or become crusty. Also look for sores that don’t heal
• Rough and scaly patches on the skin
• Flat scaly areas of the skin that are red or brown
• Any new growth that is suspicious
When it comes to your skin’s health, you can never be too cautious or careful.
If you notice anything unusual in regards to your skin, please contact a dermatologist immediately. We also recommend you visit your dermatologist for general check-ups at least once a year.
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