Maybe you were sunburned as a kid, or haven’t been diligent about wearing sunscreen, but you probably thought that, should a suspicious spot appear, your doctor would catch it and keep you healthy. Well, that isn’t always the case. More than 90 percent of dermatological surgeons have seen at least one patient in the past year with skin cancer that was overlooked and misdiagnosed by a non-dermatologist. Quite a horrifying statistic, especially because melanoma is the most common cancer among women ages 25 to 29.
The latest skin – cancer prevention advice is to stop trusting sunscreen as the front line of defense against harmful rays. Instead, wear sunblocking clothing or stay out of the sun altogether. Sunscreen has been shown to protect against UV skin damage as well as basal carcinomas and squamous cell carcinoma – two of the three most common skin cancers.
However, it has not been conclusively shown to protect against melanoma, the most fatal kind. Experts agree that wearing sun- protective clothing such as a hat and reducing sun exposure to a minimum is preferred to just using sunscreen. When outdoors, wear sunscreen and lots of it. Zinc or titanium oxide sunscreens scatter UV light and yield fewer allergies, so they are better for children. The more common sunscreen lotions, called organic sunscreens, absorb UV rays. Applying liberal quantities of sunscreen is by far the most important factor in the prevention of sunburn. Go ahead, smear it on. A short glass- full should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors.
Look at your skin.
While four out of five people are concerned about skin cancer, more than half have never been screened for skin cancer (54%) and nearly one quarter (23 %) never examine their skin for changes to moles and blemishes, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Dermatology. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, the AAD says, but when detected early, even melanoma is highly treatable. To check yourself, inspect your skin, including the back, scalp, soles of the feet, between the toes and the palms of the hands. Use mirrors when necessary.
Other tips from the AAD: Seek shade if you must be outdoors during the sun’s strongest hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 pm and avoid tanning beds. Their UV lights causes skin cancer and wrinkling. (Use a self- tanning lotion if you want to look tan.)
Don’t forget about your lips and the unseen areas. Make sure to put on lip balm with sunscreen and to apply sunscreen to the areas covered by your bathing suit. The sun’s rays are strong and these areas are the most sensitive since they’re not subject to the daily “wear and tear” of your other body parts.
Take care of yourself to avoid becoming a statistic.