THE SKIN CANCER FOUNDATION
As 2011 draws to a close, prepare to ring in the New Year with skin-saving resolutions suggested by The Skin Cancer Foundation. From seeing a dermatologist to ending your tanning routine and practicing sun protection as a way of life, here are five ways to adopt healthy skin habits next year:
1. Make Sun Protection Part Of Your Daily Routine
Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are caused by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. Since UV damage is cumulative over our lifetime, it is something to be concerned about on a daily basis. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following sun safety tips:
• Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Do not burn.
• Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
• Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an 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 immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
2. Examine your skin, head-to-toe, every month.
While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately. To find out more about how to perform self-examination and spot a potential skin cancer, visit www.SkinCancer.org.
3. See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
Skin cancer, the most prevalent cancer, is also the most treatable cancer when detected early. The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease. An annual full-body skin exam performed by a dermatologist is essential.
4. Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
For indoor tanners, no New Year’s resolution will be as important as a vow to stay away from tanning salons. Tanners may think all they are getting is a bronze glow, but that change in skin tone is a sign of skin damage and may lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer. While it is true that melanoma risk can increase by 74 percent for frequent tanners, new research finds that those who make just four visits to a tanning booth per year can increase their risk for melanoma by 11 percent, and their risk for the two most common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, by 15 percent. The more time a person has spent tanning, the higher the risk of skin cancer.
5. Keep Your Skin Glowing and Healthy
Glowing skin can be achieved without tanning. Expert dermatologists say that proper cleansing, morning and night, is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy, natural glow. In the morning, if you use a vitamin C serum, put it on after cleansing your skin. Then apply a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher, followed by makeup. If you exfoliate, do it after cleansing in the evening. For more tips from dermatologists on taking care of your skin, visit the Go With Your Own Glow section of skincancer.org.