June is Cancer from the Sun Month, and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “More people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.”
How do you go about guarding your skin from the dangers of the sun?
Which SPF is the right one for you and your family?
Are the chemicals in sunscreen safe?
Excess sun exposure increases the risk of developing skin cancer, so the most basic advice is to avoid baking in the sun’s rays during peak hours (between 10 AM and 4 PM), and to wear long-sleeved or other sun-blocking clothing.
Total avoidance isn’t practical for most, so sunblock becomes the next best option. Be sure to choose a sunscreen or sunblock with at least an SPF 15 rating, and apply it to any part of the body that will be even remotely exposed to the sun — even the ears and lips (you can use a sunblocking lip balm for these areas).
SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor,” and many fall for the trap that the higher the SPF, the less often it will have to be reapplied. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 percent of UVB radiation, while an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks nearly 97 percent.” Gaps in protection are more likely from rubbing or sweating off the sunblock than from “less concentrated” SPF products – reapply the sunscreen after heavy sweating or water exposure, or around every 2-3 hours (you can read more here about which sunscreens out-performed others).
A major consequence of too much sun exposure is Melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer, and it appears as a mole-like, often irregular mark on one’s skin. If any of your moles have one or more of the following, consider them suspicious and worthy of getting checked by a medical professional:
The “ABCDEs of Skin Cancer” (you can read more here):
“One bad burn as a child makes you half-again more likely to develop melanoma as an adult,” according to Neil Box, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. So before you head to the beach this summer, be mindful of protecting your skin!
(And if you would like a mole check, don’t hesitate to visit your local primary care or urgent care center. Our facilities include Woodbridge Walk-In, Costa Mesa Urgent Care, and Fountain Valley Urgent Care; make sure to schedule an appointment online to save time!)