Although skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, it’s easily preventable with the right steps. At its core, daylight consist of two forms of ultraviolet light (UV), UVA and UVB. UVA rays are the least harmful, and are present more abundantly in sunlight than ‘B’; it is constantly present, no matter the season or the weather. They are so powerful that they also penetrate some clothing and even glass. They can even age cells, and are therefore linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles.
UVB are more harmful, and increase the risk of skin cancers; these are the rays you can blame when you get a sunburn. Unlike UVA rays, these rays aren’t always the same strength year-round and are more prevalent in the summer months; they are even able to reflect off of water or snow. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s important to prevent both types of rays from damaging your skin, so here are some steps to take.
Although many people think of sunscreen when they think of SPF, sun protection factor extends even to the clothing you wear when you’re outside. We recommend daily, broad-spectrum sunscreen use of at least SPF 30, applied 30 minutes or so before you go outside. It’s also important to make sure your clothing and eyewear are protective as well, since UV rays can even penetrate certain types of cloth. You should make sure your skin is mostly covered with sunscreen and clothing with a high UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor. Additionally, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses are a must-have. And don’t forget lip protection that contains SPF!
It’s well established that even a handful of sunburns in your life can have significant impact on your risk of skin cancer. The best way to avoid sunburn is by practicing good sun protection and avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible. The middle part of the day, or between mid-morning and mid-afternoon, is when your exposure to UV rays is at its highest. If you have plans to be outside during this time, you should be sure to seek shade or bring your own.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking. If you’ve ever tanned using a tanning booth even once, your chances of developing certain types of skin cancer goes up by well over 50%. If you use tanning beds or tan outdoors, it’s extremely important to stop as soon as possible.
Although you should screen yourself regularly at home (from head to toe!), it’s extremely beneficial to see a medical professional for an in-office screening. A physician can examine any troublesome areas up close and also see areas you might not be able to on your own. It’s important to wear no makeup, make sure your hair is loose and unstyled, and remove any nail polish. This can ensure your physician can examine every area, even your scalp and fingernails.
There are some specific signs you should know how to recognize when you check yourself at home. The most significant things are changes in your existing moles or skin. If you notice anything unusual, you should see your physician who can assess the area and make a recommendation. During an appointment, our gynecologists can make sure you know what signs to look for.
Our expert gynecologists are here to help when it comes to keeping your whole body healthy and cancer-free. To speak with our gynecologists and learn more about keeping your skin safe, contact our New York City office by calling or filling out our online form.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!