Many people laugh off the idea of skin cancer. It doesn’t seem like a real threat, and when you’re young it feels like you’ll live forever.
This is not the reality. The reality is that one person dies of melanoma every hour. The reality is that 1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime. The reality is cancer treatments that leave your skin raw and blistered (check out this mom’s story). I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds. If you’re not particularly interested in getting skin cancer, here are some tips to recognize and prevent melanoma.
First and foremost, use sunscreen!
I know, I know. Nobody likes to be the one who smells of Hawaiian Tropic and reapplies every 30 minutes, but using sunscreen is so key in preventing skin cancer. Make sure to apply it often, after sweating, swimming, and at least every 2 hours. Don’t forget the little spots like your ears, top of your feet, back of your next, etc.
If you’re concerned about the safety of sunscreen, you can lay your fears to rest.
via Nova Magazine
The ingredients that are of primary concern are nanoparticles of zinc or titanium dioxide, as there is a possibility of the compounds crossing over the skin’s barrier and entering the bloodstream. As long as you don’t purchase sunscreens containing nanoparticles, there is no issue.
Another concern that many people have is that oxybenzone will disrupt hormonal balances, as there has been research showing that it can. Here’s the thing: you would have to slather on sunscreen every single day for 30 years in order to take in as much oxybenzone as the rats in lab were exposed to. The dose makes the poison. Long story short? You’re perfectly fine.
via Flickr / flatworldsedge
For those of us with short hair (or none at all!) hats are our best friend. Even if you have longer hair that protects your ears and neck, a wide brimmed hat can help to shield your face from UV rays. Choose one that makes you feel like a baller and own it.
Avoid tanning beds like the plague.
via Flickr / a james
While it’s tempting to get that golden glow, the exposure to carcinogenic UV rays is not worth it. Even occasional use of tanning beds triples your chances of developing skin cancer. Do yourself a favor and invest in some spray tan!
Know how to tell the difference between a normal mole and a cancerous one.
One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to know where your moles are and keep track of what they look like. If they start to change in shape or color, or if you develop a new spot, get it checked out by a doctor. It is better to be safe than sorry.
via Dr Michalak
And make sure to check less obvious places.
via Flickr / Marshalynn
While melanoma most commonly occurs on frequently exposed areas, it is not limited to these areas. Melanoma can grow anywhere on the body, including the soles of your feet, between your toes, your nail
beds, or even your rectum, vagina, or mouth.
Remember, cover up and stay safe when you’re out enjoying the sunshine!
Main image via Dr Michalak