Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma.
The good news? Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early – and that includes melanoma. We can work together to prevent skin cancer or find it early, when it’s easier to treat. This May, spread the word about strategies for preventing skin cancer and encourage organizations, communities, and families to get involved.
Take these simple steps today to protect your skin:
-Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
-Don’t get sunburned.
-Avoid tanning, and never use UV tanning beds.
-Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV- blocking sunglasses.
-Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with 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.
-Apply one ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
-Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
-Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
-See a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.
Sun Safety in Cars
For most people, car safety means seat belts and airbags. But there’s another important way to stay out of harm’s way on the road, and that’s by protecting your skin from the sun. A study revealed that nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the U.S. occur on the left, or driver’s side, of the body.
Here’s how to protect your skin when in your car:
-Treat your vehicle to window film. Although car windshields are partially treated to filter out UVA, the side windows let in about 63 percent of the sun’s UVA radiation; rear windows are also unprotected, leaving back seat passengers exposed. There is, however, a solution. Transparent window film screens out almost 100 percent of UVB and UVA without reducing visibility, and is available in all 50 states. If you have window film installed, remember that it protects you only when the windows are closed.
-Keep sunscreen in the car. Sunscreen should be on hand for quick reapplication during long drives, reapplying every two hours. Look for one with an SPF of 15+, with UVA and UVB blocking.
-Skip the sunroof and skip the convertible. Drivers’ heads and necks receive the most UV exposure, so it’s no surprise that researchers found over 82 percent of skin cancers on the patients’ heads or necks. A solid, closed roof is your best bet. If you have a sunroof or a convertible top, wear a hat, preferably a wide-brimmed one (3” or greater all around). At the very least, be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed areas of the face, neck, and scalp.
The second most common area for skin cancers is the arm, so, in addition to applying sunscreen, avoid propping your elbow up on the open window while you drive. Keep both arms inside the car, and your hands on the wheel. Keep a hat in the car, along with your sunscreen and UV-blocking sunglasses, and you’ll have a sun protection travel kit to see you safely to your destination.