While there is no sure way to prevent melanoma skin cancers, there are steps you can take that may reduce the possibility of developing the disease. Different types of melanomas have different risk factors. Some risk factors, such as too much sun or smoking, can be changed. Other factors such a genetics or family history, can’t be changed. Just because you may have one or more of these risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the disease. Even so, melanoma prevention is important in reducing any risks you may have. There are steps you can take to protect your skin and your health.
Reduce UV Radiation Exposure
One of the primary ways to reduce the risk of developing melanoma is reducing and limiting exposure to UV radiation. This includes UV from sunlight and artificial sources, such as tanning beds.
Sunscreen should be used generously on any exposed skin. This should be done year round, even if it’s cloudy. Just because the sun isn’t out, doesn’t mean there is no risk.
Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (or SPF) of at least 30. Make certain it also provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
One ounce of sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. It should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
Just because you’re wearing sunscreen doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun as long as you want. To prevent Melanoma you should always avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
Shield Your Skin
Sometimes covering up is the best defense against the sun and damaging UV rays. Wear protective clothing like long pants or a long skirt. A wide brimmed hat and sunglasses can be especially helpful in protecting your face.
If spending a long time outside, seek shade to avoid overexposure. Remember the sun is at it’s strongest between 10am and 4pm, making it the perfect time to take a break in the shade.
Be aware of reflective outdoor environments like water sand and snow. These will reflect and magnify the sun’s rays increasing the chance of sunburn and UV exposure.
Besides blistering and peeling, a sunburn, especially during childhood, increases your risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancer. Just one severe sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma in the future.
Tanning beds should also be avoided. Most tanning bulbs emit UVA radiation.Current research indicates there is no way to get a tan through UV exposure without increasing the risk for skin cancer.
While the UVB rays from the sun and from tanning beds acts as a source for vitamin D, intentional exposure and tanning is not a good solution for a vitamin D deficiency. A healthy diet is a safe source of vitamin D as well as supplements if recommended by your doctor.
Be aware of the side affects of any over-the-counter or prescription medications you take. Some medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Early Detection Can Aid in Melanoma Prevention and Treatment
Melanoma, as well as other skin cancers, often start as changes to your skin. They can appear as irregularities or growths which could be precancerous lesions, which can become cancer over time.
Research has shown that patients, not doctors, are most likely to spot a melanoma. Monthly self skin examinations are important. Early detection can aide in melanoma prevention. Regular yearly examinations should be performed by a dermatologist.
Knowing what to look for is important and the ABCDE’s of Melanoma are a great guide. Don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist with any new skin growth or abnormality. Early detection is key to melanoma prevention and treatment.
At Vive Medical Weight Loss and Aesthetics, we offer a complete line of cosmetic skin care products and services including sunscreens, which are a necessity in the prevention against melanoma. Our medical esthetician can create a customized skin care regimen perfect for you.