Summer is here. It’s the season of swimming, lounging on the beach and water sports. But it’s important to be sun smart and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (skincancer.org), more Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer in a year than all other cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and the diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancers went up 77 percent between 1994 and 2014. Melanoma, the most fatal kind of skin cancer, kills one person every hour.
So what can you do?
1. Everyone should be vigilant. And that means everyone.
While it is more prevalent among fair-skinned people, no one take skin cancer lightly. The Jamaican reggae superstar Bob Marley died of melanoma at the young age of 36. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that the five-year melanoma survival rate for African-Americans is only 69 percent, compared to 94 percent for white patients.
2. Not all skin cancers look alike.
In the digital age, it is tempting for patients to self-diagnose, but skin cancers can look to the naked eye like anything from moles to bug bites to skin tags. This is why everyone should see a dermatologist once a year for an examination.
3. wear sunscreen
The American Academy of Dermatology (aad.org) notes that everyone should wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. It’s especially important to be vigilant near water because the water reflects damaging UV rays, increasing the odds of a bad sunburn.
4. avoid the sun during peak hours
Experts agree it is best to avoid the sun during peak hours. However, peak hours can last a little longer in Louisiana. UV exposure is highest in areas closest to the equator, so people will be more prone to sunburns and skin cancer this region than they would be in, say, Milwaukee.