3 Great Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

September 5, 2018
It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that humans started to understand the magnitude of the sun’s influence on our bodies, particularly regarding the effects of overexposure to ultraviolet radiation in the forms of UVA and UVB. Since then, discoveries have been made to explain how these harmful rays prematurely age our skin and mutate skin cells, leading to cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Now, through modern science, we have the power to properly evaluate the effects of UV radiation and educate ourselves on the best practices for avoiding overexposure and preventing the likelihood of developing skin cancer. Each year, more than 5.4 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States alone. Among these, nearly 76,000 cases are diagnosed as melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer and, if left untreated, can spread quickly to other parts of the body, including the brain, liver, and lungs. Fortunately, there are methods for detecting early warning signs of skin cancer, and, if caught quickly, these cases are easily treated. Pay particular attention to the three tips below.

Prevention Tip #1: Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Salons

Despite the information available on the negative effects of UV exposure, we still very much live in a culture of sun worship, which is evidenced by the number of tanning salons and tan-enhancing beauty products that exist on the market today. As our understanding of sun damage continues to grow and people are taught the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure, we can begin to reverse our obsession with the sun and learn that skin beauty is not found through tanning, but rather through healthy practices and lifestyle choices.

Prevention Tip #2: Use Sunscreen Daily

While UVB radiation is responsible for causing painful and unsightly sunburns, it is UVA which penetrates deep into our skin, damaging cells and ultimately leading to cancer. Using sunscreens listed as “broad spectrum” will help guard your skin from not only UVB rays, but also UVA rays. Additionally, it is important to remember that sunscreen must be applied daily, as harmful radiation is capable of penetrating car windows, cloud cover, and even clothing. Look for sunscreens with an SPF rating of 30 or higher for optimal protection. One of our favorite sunscreens is SkinMedica’s Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+. This is a revolutionary superscreen that goes beyond UV protection to defend against harmful infrared rays while supporting the skin’s ability to restore itself. The ultra-light emulsion is easily spreadable and instantly absorbed and forms a protective smart pro-shield. With its high SPF protection, it's a great year-round sunscreen.

Prevention Tip #3: Get an Annual Skin Exam

Maintaining regular skin exams with a board-certified dermatologist is essential for screening possible signs of skin cancer. Your dermatologist will be able to educate you on warning signs, including new or changing moles and moles with irregular coloring, scaly appearances, and other telltale signs of abnormality. Skin cancer is the most pervasive cancer there is, accounting for more diagnosed cases each year than all other cancers combined. However, by following these tips and consulting your dermatologist, you can ensure that your skin remains healthy, beautiful, and – most importantly – cancer free. If you don’t have a dermatologist, you can schedule a consultation with us at our Buckhead, Covington, and Marietta locations.

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