When I was a child, my Mom had a skin cancer scare. It was a spot on her back that the dermatologist found among the thousands of freckles she had. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing but from that point on, my Mom went crazy protecting me and my brothers from the sun. In a way, I’m kind of glad as the situation made our entire family aware about skin cancer. And since childhood, I have developed good habits when I’m outside. Habits I hope to pass on to my own children (I must be doing something right as my children as usually the palest ones at the pool!). Research has shown that it only takes a few bad burns, usually early in life, to cause damage. In honor of Melanoma Monday, I hope you will take a few minutes to read up on skin cancer. Skin cancer is scary just by the mere fact that it is the most common cancer. At the same time, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.
Here are some recommendations to help you and your family protect your largest organ.
- Wear sunscreen every day. Even when it’s a cloudy day, you are still getting sun exposure.
- Remember sun exposure affects your entire body. Don’t forget to protect your ears, nose, back of neck, hands and feet.
- Apply liberally. Use 1 ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover the body and apply every 2 hours at a minimum.
- Avoid direct sunlight between 10 am – 2 pm. If you have to be outside, stay in the shade, wear a hat and sunscreen.
- Start young. Teach your children good habits by applying sunscreen before they play outside. Sunscreen should not be applied on infants younger than 6 months so it’s best to keep them out of the sun altogether.
To learn more and find a free skin cancer screening near you, check out the American Academy of Dermatology.