May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States!
But, it’s also the most preventable!
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation about 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 85% of melanoma skin cases are related to UV exposure from the sun.
Ah, the sun. I have a love/hate relationship with the sun.
I love it because it makes me happy. And I know it makes other people happy too. I see more smiling faces and people just generally being nicer to each other when the sun is out.
I hate it because I want to bask in its glory but I don’t want a sunburn, wrinkles, or skin cancer.
So what to do, what to do?
Prevention is Key:
- Get in the habit of applying sunscreen every day. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 every day, rain or shine. Start making it a part of your daily routine today.
- Apply enough sunscreen and then reapply. We need to apply 1 ounce (equal to 2 tablespoons or a shot glassful) of sunscreen. It needs to be reapplied every 2 hours you are out in the sun, or every hour if you have been swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing. Hats and sunglasses are included in protective clothing. Coolibar makes some fun UPF clothing and hats.
- Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Don’t go to tanning beds, just don’t do it.
- If you want that beautiful, bronze look use sunless tanner. There are a lot of products on the market. I prefer sunless tanner in mouse form because it’s less messy.
- Educate yourself on what to look for and perform your own monthly skin checks. Enlist the help of a special friend for those places you can’t see. The Melanoma Research Foundation has a handy guide for the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
- Visit your dermatologist for yearly skin exams.
Jump in the Way-Way Back Machine With Me:
I have to admit that I have not always used sunscreen. Sunbathing was my favorite thing to do. I not only sunbathed but I used baby oil to make my tan happen faster. The only thing that happened faster was sunburn.
The worst sunburns come with blisters.
Blisters were not part of my vocabulary until I went to Jamaica when I was 14. The only education I had about sun protection was well, none. I took suntan lotion, not sunscreen. I slathered that lotion on and parked my butt on the lounge chair…all day.
The only time I moved was to turn myself. I wanted to have even color on my front and back, after all.
The next day I was in pain and covered with blisters. The only part of my body not purple and blistered were my eyes because I wore sunglasses (let’s be clear, I wore sunglasses because I thought they were cool not because I was trying to protect my eyes from the sun). So I looked like a purple raccoon.
I spent the rest of my vacation fully covered. I went outside but stayed under umbrellas for most of the time.
We did go out on a catamaran cruise towards the end of our stay. By this time my blisters had popped so I had raw skin exposed.
If you’ve ever been in the ocean then you know it’s a pretty salty place. I learned what it feels like to “pour salt in my wounds,” literally.
I am now diligent about wearing sunscreen every day. It is just part of my daily routine and I feel like something is missing without it.
My More Contemporary Story:
I keep an eye on my skin and go to the dermatologist every year for a full skin exam.
This year I noticed a mole on my neck that had significantly changed shape and color and had grown like crazy. It didn’t really look like the pictures of skin cancer but it was still pretty suspicious.
I had that mole biopsied. It wasn’t cancer. I am so grateful!!
There are others who are not so lucky.
It’s important to protect yourself. Make applying sunscreen a daily habit. It really just takes seconds of your time.
What’s Currently On My Shelf:
- Rodan + Fields Soothe Mineral Sunscreen
- Drunk Elephant-Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense
- Ultra Violette Queen Screen Luminising Sun Serum
- Ultra Violette Clean Screen Mattifying Mineral Sunscreen
- Coola Mineral Sunscreen Spray
- Coola Pina Colada Sunscreen Spray – This smells amazing!
- Coola Tropical Coconut Sunscreen Spray – This also smells amazing!
Sun protection doesn’t have to be a chore. There are some pretty cool sunscreens on the market right now. It’s also a great excuse to buy fashionable hats and fun UPF clothing.
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