With the “unofficial” start of summer being upon as (even though beach season started months ago in SC), the importance of sunscreen and sun protection needs to be reviewed. We will repost this message to remind people. Multiple studies show that as many as one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime, and I was on my way to getting it as well if I wasn’t pro-active. When a family is struggling to keep up with the cost of living and daily bills, it can be difficult to protect themselves. But sunscreen programs and discounted items is available for lower income families as well.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer with more than 4 million cases diagnosed each year. 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV or ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and this can be prevented. I have had some growths and moles removed from me that were highly “abnormal”, which is one step before cancer.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer is vastly attributed to sun exposure. In fact, the average person’s risk for melanoma doubles if she/he has had more than 5 sunburns in their lifetime, which I unfortunately did as a kid. If and when this ever occurs, people can seek help from many non-profits that offer assistance to cancer patients.
Preventative measures are key in reducing the risk of developing skin cancers. Some of these cost very little, if any money, to implement. There are also coupons to pay for sunscreen, do it yourself tips, and other ways to help minimize risk. The following list offers some suggestions:
*Do not tan or using a tanning bed. When you have tan skin it is damaged skin. Not only is it expensive to use a tanning bed, especially for families living on a budget, but tanning facilities have been banned in countries such as Brazil and Australia. Eleven states in the United States prohibit indoor tanning for persons younger than 18 years. More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States are linked to indoor tanning.
*Seek shade during the hours between 10am and 4pm when the sun is at its peak. This costs nothing to do! Even when I go to the beach I sit under the peer for my shade!
*Do not allow your skin to burn. Apply SPF 30 with a broad spectrum UVA/UVB every day and every 2 hours when outside or after swimming or sweating excessively. Shop at discount stores for sunscreen, use coupons, and plan for this cost.
*Keep all newborns and even young infants out of the sun.
*Check your skin every month or more frequently for changes in moles or new moles that may appear. Go to a dermatologist for an exam, and most health insurance policies pay for it. Pay attention to the ABCDEs—asymmetry, bleeding, color, diameter and evolving (new changes) etc. to the moles.
*Have a dermatologist check your skin every year or more frequently if recommended. If you can’t afford the medical bills for this type of exam, look into applying for free medical or health care programs. Many dermatologists participate.
*Wear hats, sunglasses and clothing (there are pieces available with SPF woven in) when outdoors. Specifically cover the arms and legs and keep face in the shade. Wear a wide brim hat (I have my beach hat too!) to cover your face, chest, ears and scalp. Even shop at a thrift store or clothing closet for discount items with SPF in them.
*Self-tan if you must have color—there are a slew of self-tanning products available for a wide range of skin tones. Note, this can be costly for the typical budget though, especially for low income families.
*Embrace pale or lighter skin like me. The sun is directly responsible for not only cancer but also aging from sunspots, uneven skintone, wrinkles, etc. So it does much harm in more ways than one.