July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month
As we enjoy the long, hot days of summer, it is important to take some precaution when heading outdoors. In honor of July being the National Awareness Month for UV Safety, here are some recommendations to help increase awareness of skin cancer risk as well as to prevent overexposure.
- Understand your personal risk factors— people of all skin colors are at-risk for sunburn and other harmful effects of UV radiation, so always protect yourself. Be especially careful if you have: fair skin, excess sun exposure, family history of skin cancer, weakened immune system and any precancerous skin conditions.
- Begin protecting your skin with sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) and protective clothing (do not forget a hat and sunglasses). Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. A good visual to think of is how much you would need to fill a shot glass – that roughly equals an ounce. You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Make changes in your outdoor activities — seek out the shade; take a walk in the evening; sit under the umbrella by the pool, avoid being out in the sun during key daylight hours when the sun is the most intense (10am-4pm), be sure to cover-up and protect your skin.
- Schedule a baseline skin examination with a dermatologist and plan for how often you should return for skin examinations by a trained professional.
- Track and report any changes in your skin — be on the lookout for moles that change, new moles or skin discolorations, any bleeding, irregular borders, or scaling.
- Skin cancer can occur in places that are not regularly exposed to the sun — check between toes, the soles of your feet and in the genital area.
Skin Safety Resources:
Online Learning Opportunities:
Skin Cancer Town Hall brought to you by the Mayo Clinic Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research.
Description: Dr. Collin Costello presented an overview of skin cancer. A woman named Jennifer also provides her experience of being diagnosed and treated for skin cancer.
Get the Skinny on Skin Cancer brought to you by the Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Cancer Education Center.
Description: Dr. Jerry Brewer, a Consultant at the Mayo Clinic Rochester focused on skin cancer including the incidence of skin cancer, risk factors, what to look for, prevention, and treatment approaches for the three common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. He also touched on the basics of skin including common uses of Botox, Myths vs Facts of common cosmetic procedures.
Are you a skin cancer survivor? Please share your story with others to increase awareness of the dangers of excess sun exposure.