One American dies because of skin cancer every hour. It is the most common cancer in the US, after all, and everyone has probably heard of or experienced it personally. By being informed and taking the necessary precautions, however, protecting your entire family from the condition is doable.
While practices at home do not replace visits to dermatologists like Brian J. Williams, M.D., they can help detect the cancer before it gets worse.
A Hereditary Condition
Unfortunately, mutations in genes can leave people predisposed to developing skin cancer. If one or both parents had skin cancer, family members, especially their children, are more likely to also develop the condition. Sharing your family’s history with cancer will help your chances of catching the disease early. Doctors will be able to spot patterns and inform you and your family if you need to be extra careful.
There is no need to ban all under-the-sun activities. Just make sure you schedule them at the right hours, when UV rays emissions are at a minimum. Anytime outside of 10AM to 4PM should be okay for your skin. Unprotected exposure for prolonged periods, however, is not.
Make Applying Sunscreen a Habit
Wide-spectrum sunscreen blocks harmful UV rays the best. Use them regularly when going outside. A product that has SPF 15 is great for daily use as well. When you plan on doing outdoor and water activities, make sure to apply sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30.
The Skin Cancer foundation suggests applying two (2) tablespoon of sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure.
Sun burns are not just burns; they are a direct reaction to exposure to a proven human carcinogen, visible proof of damaged skin. Although most of them heal, research shows having five or more sun burns doubles a person’s risk for cancer.
Schedule monthly head-to-toe checks with your family. This is a simple activity, where members can check their skin for odd spots or discoloration, especially the hard-to-inspect parts, such as the scalp and the back. Sun burn charts available online make it easy to identify risky skin irregularities.
Your family is more likely to spot a problem on your skin. So, before it escalates, make sure every member is aware of the signs of skin cancer and keep up with your regular self-checks. Best practices such as applying sun block and avoiding excessive sun exposure is easier when the whole team is in on it.