May is skin cancer awareness month, and that means that once again, we’re here to talk about a subject that should be near and dear to everyone’s heart – sun safety!
Here’s a rundown of the sun safety events this month, and our advice for making this the month you get serious about sun care.
1) The CDC is hoping to raise awareness of sun safety with its #sunsafeselfie initiative, and we’re participating too! During the month of May, post a photo of yourself following any of our rules below to NDDA’s Instagram or Facebook feed #sunsafeselfieNDDA.
Rule 1: Your Sunscreen is More Important than Your Foundation
80% of skin aging can be attributed to UV radiation exposure. Protect yourself with a broad-spectrum UVA/ UVB sunscreen with an SPF 30 or greater. Don’t depend on just your makeup to do the heavy lifting, we recommend wearing a daily moisturizer with SPF 30. Sunscreen should be a daily habit, not a vacation ritual — think of it like brushing your teeth!
Rule 2: No Tan, No Burn
Remember the days when you sprayed “sun-in” in your hair, used baby oil and laid out with foil to cook your skin? Those were the days when everyone still believed it was healthy to get a “base tan.” (which only gives you the equivalent of about SPF 3) You probably know by now that the 80’s wasn’t the most health-conscious decade. So remember, pale skin is in. Any tan (or burn) is a sign of injury.
Rule 3: Sport SPF is Not a Free Ride
Whether it’s SPF of 5 . . . or 100, your sunscreen only works as long as it is properly applied. The most common mistake is people don’t put enough of it on. It takes a shot-glass full of sunscreen for full-body coverage. And don’t get so comfortable with a higher SPF that you forget to reapply. The FDA recommends that you reapply every two-to-three hours for outdoor sports or activity.
Rule 4: Get Your Skin Checked Regularly
It’s important to schedule an annual full body skin exam with a board certified dermatologist. In between routine visits with your dermatologist, we also encourage everyone to do self-skin exams at home. You want to look for new spots as well as those that are changing in size, shape or color or even spots that are not healing. An easy way to remember what to look is to remember your “ABCD’s.”
In general, things to look for are moles that are asymmetric, have an uneven border, have color variation and a diameter larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser). Also, look for moles that are evolving – growing or changing in any way.
A = asymmetry
B = border
C = color
D = diameter, if a mole is larger than 6mm
E = evolving
2) May 7 is Melanoma Monday. Schedule your skin check!
Did you know? Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancers but it continues to be the underlying cause of the majority of skin cancer deaths. In fact, one person dies every hour from melanoma, and one in 50 people will develop melanoma in their lifetime. To put that into perspective, the layer of skin where melanoma occurs is just a few millimeters – that means the difference between life and death is the thickness of a credit card! Safeguard yourself and your family by keeping these basics front and center:
- Avoid peak hours of sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Check your skin monthly and look for the ABCDEs of melanoma.
- See a dermatologist at least once a year for a full skin check.
Call today to schedule your appointment for a full body exam for you and your loved ones! Everybody needs one.
3) May 25 is “Don’t Fry Day.” Memorize these new rules and never burn your skin again.
No one leaves the house thinking “I’ll just work on a nice sunburn today.” Most sun injury is accidental – either because you’re not paying attention or you’re not informed. Here’s a rundown of the old “sun rules” you may still be following that could be damaging your skin, and the new rules to make every day “don’t fry day.”
Old rule: It’s okay to burn a little first and then let your skin fade to a tan.
New rule: It’s never okay let your skin burn. Even a little pink means too much sun exposure.
Update: Never leave the house without a sunscreen that can pull its weight. That means finding a UVA/UVB sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and integrating it into your daily routine. And making sure your product is broad spectrum may not even be enough these days. Sun-generated free radicals threaten your skin’s elastin and collagen fibers, so pairing that sunscreen with an antioxidant moisturizer is just as important.
Old rule: Tanning is a bad habit, just say no.
New Rule: Say yes to self-tanner!
Update: Did you know that your melanoma risk is increased by up to 75% every time you step into a tanning bed? That’s according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. And you probably don’t need a statistic to understand that close to 90 percent of the skin aging effects of sun exposure – brown spots, wrinkles, etc. – are caused by UV radiation. But these days that’s no reason to forgo a great tan. New self-tanners and professional spray tanning services can give you a better summer glow, for longer, without the price of aging skin damage. Step into NDDA’s all natural airbrush spray tanning booth this summer!
Old rule: A cover-up or a hat gives you plenty of protection while you’re in the sun.
New rule: All hats and fabrics are not created equal. Watch what you wear.
Update: Unless you’re willing to invest some serious time learning about the SPF of your clothing, don’t depend on it for sun protection. Yes, you read that right . . . fabrics have UV protection ratings (called UPF ratings). Look for the Skin Cancer Foundations Seal of Recommendation, which is only given to fabrics with a UPF rating of 30 and above. And when it comes to hats, don’t opt for the cheap version, and make sure you choose one with a wide brim. Only tightly woven, dark materials will give you the kind of protection you need.