Preventative Steps to Take to Reduce Your Risk for Skin Cancer

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Skin Cancer

Spending time out in the warm sunshine is a common pastime for many people. A dose of vitamin D can be excellent for mental health, blood pressure, and bones.

However, too much time in the sun without precautions can potentially lead to skin cancer. Many people fear cancer, and likely for a good reason. The harsh effects of the disease on the body are a significant reason why life insurance with cancer is much more expensive than for those without it.

If you’re someone who enjoys spending time outdoors but fears the possibility of skin cancer, there is some good news. With the proper precautions, you can significantly reduce your risk.

Most Common Types of Skin Cancer

There are many kinds of skin cancer, some being more aggressive and harmful than others. Understanding the different types of skin cancer and their possible symptoms is essential.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, often appearing as a flesh-colored bump or pink skin patch. The spots are most commonly found on the head, neck, and arms. However, they may appear in other areas of the body as well.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer, typically found as a scaly patch, red bump, or a recurring sore on the skin. SCC is seen mainly in areas of high sun exposure, such as ears, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.

Melanoma

Melanoma may be the most thought-of type when skin cancer is mentioned. Many people are familiar with the name and its negative reputation.

It’s no surprise that Melanoma has such notoriety considering it is the most invasive skin cancer and comes with the highest risk of death. Early warnings of this type of cancer can sometimes be confused with moles, but following the ABCDE rule can help identify possible concerns.

  • Asymmetry: the mole has two sides that do not match.
  • Borders: the borders of the mole are irregular.
  • Color: the mole is not one solid color but contains multiple colors.
  • Diameter:  the mole is growing larger.
  • Evolving: the mole is changing rather than remaining the same.

If you notice a new or concerning mole on your body, it’s always safest to have the spot checked out by a dermatologist. They can perform the proper tests to give you either peace of mind or a treatment plan. Early detection can make a massive difference in the outcome of skin cancer.

Correctly and Consistently Apply Sunscreen

Sunscreen is likely everyone’s first thought when it comes to skin cancer prevention. Though, it isn’t without good reason.

Sunscreen is excellent for helping to protect your skin against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Applying sunscreen acts like a shield for your skin to stop UV rays from penetrating deeply and causing damage.

When using sunscreen, it’s essential to be sure you are applying it correctly and consistently. You want to choose an option with a high skin protection factor (SPF). The higher SPF you’re using, the better protection you have from the sun’s rays.

You’ll also want to reapply your sunscreen every two hours. After this timeframe, the SPF will no longer be effective, and you’ll be subjecting yourself to potential skin damage.

Cover Up Exposed Skin to Avoid Sun Damage

Clothing is another highly effective barrier to protect your skin from UV rays. Covering up any exposed skin can prevent the sun from causing harm.

Even if the weather is hot, opting to cover up can be an excellent way to reduce your skin cancer risk. Many clothing brands make lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants to keep you cool while also keeping you safe.

Hats are also an essential item to use for covering up. Wide-brim hats can add some style to your outfit and prevent sun damage on your face, neck, shoulders, chest, and head. These areas are often overlooked but can be the most vulnerable to UV rays.

Find Shade During the Sun’s Hottest Times

A great way to help reduce your risk of skin cancer is to avoid direct sunlight when UV rays are their strongest. These hours are typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day.

While you don’t have to avoid the outdoors altogether during these hours, you should try to limit your time in direct sunlight. Finding shade under a large tree, using an umbrella, or staying under coverings can help you still enjoy your time outside with the high exposure to these harmful rays.

If you are unable to avoid being exposed during this time of day, take preventative measures like sunscreen and protective clothing to help block the UV rays from penetrating your skin.

Avoid Tanning Beds to Keep Your Skin Safe

Sunless tanning beds are a popular choice for many people who desire a bronzed look but don’t have access to the actual sun. While this option does offer a tan, it may come at a harmful price.

Using these beds can lead to many detrimental side effects like premature aging, eye damage, and cancer. It might be easy to assume just a few trips to a tanning bed won’t cause much harm, but these beds can damage your skin quickly and often without warning.

Since you are getting such intense UV rays in a short period of time, you may not realize how damaged your skin is actually becoming while in a tanning bed. So much exposure is a significant reason why these beds can cause cancer.

Using tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk for cancer by 75%. Artificial tanning leads to cancers such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and ocular melanoma.

Reducing Skin Cancer Risks With Proper Prevention

Skin cancer is a scary thought for many people. Between the harsh effects of the disease and increased life insurance rates, there is a lot of reason to worry.

It may not be possible to guarantee you won’t get skin cancer, but you can make an effort to reduce your risk. Using sunscreen properly, covering up your skin, avoiding sun exposure during peak hours, and not using sunless tanning beds can lower your risk of skin cancer.

Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. She loves spending time outdoors but knows the importance of taking steps to prevent skin cancer. She wants to share her knowledge with others.