May is the perfect time to start spending more time in the sun—the weather is heating up, the school year is coming to a close, and vacation season has begun. However, as you begin to spend more of your day outdoors, remember that May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s important to protect your skin.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 2.4 million new diagnoses every year. Although basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are usually cured, melanoma is much more dangerous. The key to curing skin cancer is early detection, so be sure to schedule an annual skin cancer screening with your dermatologist.
You can also screen yourself monthly for skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using a mirror to examine every inch of skin and writing down a record of any moles, freckles, and age spots. Use the “ABCDEs of Melanoma”—Assymetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter (anything wider than a pencil eraser may be cancerous), and Evolving size, shape, or color. Recording your findings can allow you to track any new developments and helps your dermatologist find any abnormalities.
Summer may be heating up, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the health of your skin.
Remember these Dos and Don’ts of skin cancer prevention:
Get checked for skin abnormalities by a dermatologist at least once a year, especially if you use tanning beds
Apply sunscreen whenever you’re in the sun, and re-apply every two hours and after swimming
Choose sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays
Stay in the shade whenever you can, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Use indoor tanning beds, which increase the risk of melanoma dramatically.
Get sunburned, especially on May 27, Don’t Fry Day.
Stop using sunscreens once summer is over- the sun’s rays are still dangerous in winter and on cloudy days.
Image source: White93