May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and we wanted to use this opportunity to open up the conversation of prevention with you. Over the last 30 years, the amount of people getting skin cancer has been increasing in Canada, with a third of new cancer cases being related to skin cancer. The clinical statistics point to skin cancer as the most common type of cancer, so we believe it is important to raise awareness of this largely preventable condition.
At Vancouver Laser, we advocate for prevention over correction. Read further to learn about the simple ways you take care of your skin and protect it from skin cancer.
Protect Yourself from UV Rays
The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Ultraviolet is a form of invisible radiation that can be produced by the sun and tanning beds. You can protect yourself from the harmful effects of the UV rays by taking the following precautions:
Seek Shade During Peak Sunlight Hours
The sun rays are strongest in the northern hemisphere between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. During peak hours, it is best to seek shade and stay out of the sun. A good way to know if you need to find shelter is by looking at your shadow. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Do not underestimate the power of protecting yourself against peak hours.
Even on cloudy days, there is a high risk of UV ray damage. You should always be wearing sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and aim to reapply it every 2 hours. Look for sunscreens which are “broad spectrum” – they will effectively protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. We carry a trusted selection of sunscreens that offer effective sun protection for even the most sensitive skin.
Cover Up with Clothes, Sunglasses, and Hats
This is especially important during the peak hours mentioned earlier. Covering up is one of the most effective ways to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. Sunglasses are essential for protecting the thin and sensitive skin around your eyes. It is also important to cover your shoulders as they are the most exposed part of the body. Last but certainly not least, consider wearing a hat to protect your scalp and prevent overheating.
Check Your Skin Regularly
Early detection and treatment are key for being able to cure skin cancer and prevent it from becoming a life-threatening health concern. You know your body and your skin best, so it is important to regularly check for any changes. Pay special attention to monitoring new spots on your skin, unusual-looking spots, and any changes in spots that have been there for a while. If you notice anything abnormal, we encourage you to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. It might be nothing but it might also be your chance to remove a tiny spot of skin cancer before it has the opportunity to expand.
Choose Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Sun protection is important and should be treated as an essential step in your healthy lifestyle. Using sunscreen, going for regular checkups, exercising regularly and maintaining a balanced diet are all important steps you can take to stay healthy.
We hope that you use these tools to decrease your risk of getting skin cancer. Awareness is the first step in prevention. We hope that you pass on the knowledge here to your friends and family so that they can also take part in the fight against skin cancer through prevention. Remember, healthy skin starts with small daily steps!