Resolve to Make Skin Health a Priority
With a new year comes the opportunity to ditch unhealthy habits. The Skin Cancer Foundation urges everyone to put skin health on their list of New Year’s Resolutions. Here are five healthy and potentially lifesaving habits to adopt in 2014:
1. Protect Yourself Every Day
Sun protection is essential to skin aging and skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas are caused by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. Since UV damage is cumulative over a lifetime, it is something to be concerned about on a daily basis. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends these sun protection tips:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm.
- Do not burn.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Daily use of a sunscreen with SPF 15+ reduces skin aging by 24 percent.
- Apply 1 ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or excessive sweating.
2. Visit the Doctor’s Office for a Yearly Professional Skin Exam
Skin cancer, the most prevalent cancer, is also the most treatable cancer when detected early. The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease. An annual full-body skin exam performed by a dermatologist is essential. Locate a dermatologist with our Physician Finder.
3. Perform Routine Self-Exams
While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician. Learn how to perform a self-exam.
4. Avoid Tanning
There is no such thing as a safe tan—the darkened complexion that results from UV exposure actually represents DNA damage to the skin. The cumulative damage caused by sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, as well as wrinkles, brown spots and other signs of premature skin aging. People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by an alarming 75 percent. Just one visit to a tanning salon also increases the risk for the two most common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, by 29 percent and 67 percent, respectively. Find out more about the dangers of tanning.
5. Go With Your Own Glow
The Skin Cancer Foundation advocates embracing one’s natural skin tone. The Foundation’s Go With Your Own Glow™ campaign encourages women to love and protect their skin, whatever its natural hue. However, those who can’t resist the bronzed look but won’t sacrifice their health to achieve it should consider sunless UV-free tanners. They are available in many different formulations, including creams, lotions, gels, pump sprays, aerosols and wipes.