February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and we’re embracing it the best way we know how: by helping people avoid skin cancer. We recommend the healthy habits below to help ward off illness—and potentially prolong your life. Each habit is simple enough to adopt in a day, so you can set yourself up for healthier skin any time.
1. Avoid peak sun hours: Try to stay inside when the sunlight is strongest, which is usually between about 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you do go outside, seek shade cover.
2. Cover your skin with clothing: Keep your arms and legs covered, if you can manage to do that without overheating! For extra protection, choose clothes with ultraviolet protection factor, or UPF (it’s like an SPF for fabric).
3. Wear a hat and sunglasses: With these two accessories, you can protect your eyes, head, and neck. Be sure the sunglasses filter out both UVA and UVB rays!
4. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30+: If you’ve followed our practice for a while, you’ve come to expect this piece of advice from us! We recommend wearing sunscreen every day, whether the skies are overcast or bright, on any exposed skin to reduce UV damage.
5. Keep sunscreen in a cool place: Sunscreen loses some of its effectiveness when it overheats, so try to avoid keeping it in your car. Make sure that you carry it with you in a pocket or in your bag.
6. Apply an SPF lip product: Slathering sunscreen lotion on your lips probably sounds unpleasant, but that’s no reason to skip over your mouth—the skin there is as important as skin anywhere else! Pick a lip balm or lipstick with an SPF of 30+ for optimal protection. Make sure to swipe some on before leaving the house. To make it easier for you, we’re offering SPF lip balm in our offices all month long!
7. Avoid tanning beds: These beds measurably raise your risk of skin cancer, even with just one use. The idea that a “base tan” keeps skin safe is a harmful myth! If you’re looking for a safer bronzed glow, opt for a sunless tanner.
8. Do not sunbathe: Even after applying sunscreen, it’s not safe to lie around and soak in the sun’s rays. The UV exposure still raises your risk of skin cancer.
9. Do a monthly self-check: Examine yourself, head to toe, for any spots with irregular borders, bleeding spots, or growing spots. If you have questions or concerns about anything you see, make an appointment to see your dermatologist.
10. Don’t rely on sunscreen pills alone: While sunscreen pills can be helpful, they’re best when used alongside SPF creams and lotions.
If you have any questions on the tips above, or you want more personalized advice, just make an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists. We’ll work together to protect your skin and defend your health.