Everyone looks better with a tan, right? Not so fast! Too much emphasis is placed on a sun-kissed complexion without giving much thought to the serious health detriment the sun’s ray can cause. Every year in the United States, over 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed; 80,000 of which are the potentially fatal Melanoma. In 2013, almost 10,000 people will die from Melanoma in the US.
While Melanoma is a serious, life-threatening form of skin cancer, it is also one of the most preventable. To protect yourself and your skin, go buy some self-tanning lotion – and follow Dr. Walder’s Five Golden Rules to Avoid Melanoma. Remember, what really makes everyone look better is healthy skin.
Golden Rule I
Stay in the shade.
The sun’s UV rays are at their strongest during the mid-day, so avoid being out during the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm. If you must be outside, seek shade under a leafy tree, pavilion, awning, or an umbrella.
Golden Rule II
Do not burn – ever.
Any sunburn will raise the chances of developing skin cancer; actually just a single burn before the age of 18 doubles a person’s risk for Melanoma during their lifetime. Do not spend prolonged periods in the sun; if you start to turn red, take cover.
Golden Rule III
Avoid tanning beds.
Using a tanning bed is no safer than spending time out in the sun. Actually, the UV rays emitted from a tanning bed are 12 times stronger than the sun’s. Just the occasional visit to a tanning booth can triple a person’s risk for developing Melanoma.
Golden Rule IV
Use sunscreen daily.
Wear a judicious amount of broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher sunscreen every day, even in cloudy or cold weather. Whether going to the park or driving your car, the sun’s dangerous UV rays are everywhere. Protect yourself by reapplying sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming.
Golden Rule V
Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection. Invest in a wide brimmed hat and wrap-around sunglasses. Wear a brightly colored, long-sleeve shirt and long-pants whenever possible, as these can offer your best defense to the sun’s UV rays.
By following Dr. Walder’s Five Golden Rules, your chances for Melanoma will be greatly decreased. Always remember to do a monthly head to toe self-examination, noting any new moles or changes on existing spots on your skin. Once a year, have a professional skin cancer exam from your dermatologist. If you have skin cancer questions, concerns, or would like to schedule an exam, contact Miami’s top dermatologists, Drs. Diane Walder, Cynthia Golomb, and Stacey Chimento at 305.866.2177.