Skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma, has gained recent attention with Sarah Ferguson’s diagnosis. Early detection is crucial, but proactive daily habits can significantly reduce your risk. Dermatologists weigh in on five indispensable skincare habits that go beyond just checking moles.
1. Wear SPF Every Single Day
Dermatologists emphasize the year-round importance of sunscreen application. While NHS England suggests applying between April and October, UV rays persist throughout the year. Dr. Cristina Psomadakis, an NHS consultant dermatologist, urges consistency in sunscreen use, not just for preventing burns but also cumulative UVA exposure linked to skin aging and cancer development.
Choosing an SPF50 sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB is crucial. Dr. Angela Tewari recommends this as initial sunburn from UVB, followed by regular UVA exposure, can lead to skin cancers like melanoma. The key is to find a sunscreen you enjoy using, ensuring regular application to all exposed areas.
2. Don’t Forget to Reapply
Applying sunscreen generously 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapplying every couple of hours is essential. Dr. Magnus Lynch advises against reapplication when indoors unless near a window. During winter, invisible sunscreen sprays can be applied over makeup, adding moisture and protection.
Dr. Jason Thomson from Skin + Me suggests this habit compensates for missed patches and ensures sufficient coverage. Regular reapplication becomes critical after swimming, exercise, sweating, and toweling, providing continuous protection against harmful UV rays.
3. Red – or Fair – Take Extra Care
Different skin types require specific attention. Darker skin, containing Eumelanin, provides some natural protection but is still susceptible to skin cancers. Dr. Tewari recommends broad-spectrum SPF50 for all skin types. Redheads, with Pheomelanin in their skin, should use sunscreen with antioxidants, especially polypodium leucotomos, reducing sunburn risk.
Dr. Sina Ghadiri highlights the association of red hair with increased melanoma risk, emphasizing the need for extra precautions. Being sun-savvy is crucial, especially for those with pale or red hair.
4. Protect Your Skin from UV Rays Even During Winter
Contrary to popular belief, cooler winter months do not grant immunity from UV rays. Dermatologists, including Dr. Katherine Fiala, emphasize year-round protection, particularly for young adults. Melanoma is the most diagnosed cancer among Americans aged 24 to 29.
Understanding risk factors is essential. Indoor tanning bed use increases the likelihood of squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma diagnoses. Dr. Fiala advises remembering ‘ABCD’ and ‘E’ for skin cancer detection: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Varying colors, Diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and Evolution over time.
5. Skiing is ‘Extremely High-Risk Skin Cancer Activity’
Outdoor activities like skiing pose unique risks. Dr. Sandi Eivins notes the high incidence of skin cancer in mountainous regions due to increased UVB levels and sunlight reflection off snow. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with skiing being an ‘extremely high-risk activity.’
The Dermatology Center of Steamboat Springs has diagnosed approximately 30,000 cancers, emphasizing the need for regular skin checks. Former ski patrol director, Peter Wither, stresses the importance of protection and regrets not taking sun precautions earlier.
Incorporating these skincare habits into your daily routine can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer. From year-round sunscreen use to tailored protection for different skin types, being proactive is key. Stay informed, get regular skin checks, and embrace a sun-safe lifestyle for healthier and happier skin.