Summer is for spending time outside. Whether you’re on the beach, at the park, on a bike, in the garden or at a baseball game you’re exposed to one common thread: the sun. And if you’re one in five people, unfortunately, you could develop skin cancer. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than two million people are diagnosed annually (source: SkinCancer.org). A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had over five sunburns at any age.
If you haven’t seen the “Dear 16 Year Old Me” YouTube video, we’d highly advise it. It features a number of people ranging in age, ethnicity and gender who’ve all been diagnosed with melanoma. Throughout the video they advise their 16-year-old selves to take preventative measures to avoid cancer and be extra careful.
We’ve compiled a quick list of the 8 best ways to prevent skin cancer. Take a look, tell your friends.
1. Sunscreen: Reapply every two hours. Be weary of commonly missed spots (scalp, back of hands, tops of feet, legs and behind your ears). Try to use broad spectrum sunscreen and use a high SPF.
2. Avoid peak hours (10 a.m. and 4 p.m.): Harmful UV rays are strongest when the sun is directly overhead. Avoid going out at these times if possible.
3. Wear a hat: Get fashionable and toss on a sun hat or baseball cap. A hat with a 2-3 inch brim is ideal. Straw hats are too finely woven to offer any protection—opt for a thicker fabric.
4. Don’t tan: This instruction is very simple: just don’t do it. Go for the spray tan or self-tanning lotion if you must get that shimmery, golden tone.
5. Protect your eyes: Your eyes are susceptible to ocular skin cancer (yes, it’s real). Skip the cheap pair and make sure they block OVA and UVB light.
6. Don’t forget your lips: SPF 30 or higher if you’re going to be out for long periods of time. And remember to reapply after you eat.
7. Check for moles often: People often neglect going to the dermatologist because they assume they’ll notice any cancer forming. Skin cancer often begins forming at a minimally detectable rate. Check early and check often—keep a regular appointment for a mole check with your dermatologist.
8. Remember reflected sunlight: Water, sand, concrete, and even brightly painted white areas can damage your skin. It’s a good rule of thumb to put sunscreen on every day.