It’s skin cancer prevention month. The perfect time to evaluate what we are doing to protect ourselves and our kids. This is especially important to me because I had skin cancer at only 37 years old and I want to prevent my kids from dealing with this too. The rate of skin cancer is growing each year, with 3 million people getting non-melanoma skin cancer and over 10,000 dying this year from melanoma. Did you know that one severe sunburn as a child doubles your chances of melanoma as an adult? Having more than 5 sunburns doubles the risk as well. Skin cancer prevention starts with us parents being a good example, teaching our children about it, and making sure we are protecting them and ourselves.
How do you protect yourself? We all know about wearing sunscreen but here’s some tips for skin cancer prevention you may not know, plus some of my favorite products:
(The photos are direct, affiliate links to the products. This makes it easy to find them and helps support my blog).
1. Use sunscreen that is 30 SPF or higher and protects from UVA and UVB rays. Look for one that is water resistant. SPF 30 blocks about 97% of the suns UVA and UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks about 98%. Any higher than SPF 50 makes little difference and is not necessary. SPF 15 blocks about 93% which is significantly less so it’s best to get at least SPF 30. Apply 30 minutes before going outside for the maximum benefit. Re-apply every 2 hours you are outside and right after swimming or heavily sweating. Check the water resistance if you are swimming and reapply per the bottles instructions. They can vary between 40-80 minutes.
My favorite sunscreen, which my dermatologist recommended, is Neutrogena Dry Touch. It is amazing! I don’t hate putting on sunscreen anymore because there is no greasy, oily feel or yucky sunscreen smell with Neutrogena. It blends in smoothly and quickly and I don’t even realize I have it on. Other dermatologist recommended sunscreens are Aveeno, Elta, Coppertone, Blue Lizard, and Solbar. 10 Best Dermatologist Recommended Sunscreens.
2. Keep newborns out of the sun. Babies are not supposed to wear sunscreen before 6 months of age so if you are going to be outside, make sure it’s not for long periods of time, use a hat, and try to stay in the shade.
3. Wear clothes that are best at blocking harmful UV rays. Kids especially have awesome swimwear options that offer extra sun protection.
5. Try not to be in direct sunlight for extended periods of time between 10am to 4 pm. Seek shade or bring your own shade if you are going to be outside during this time.
6. If you want tanned skin, use self-tanning lotion instead of the sun or tanning beds. UV radiation from tanning beds is known to cause skin cancer; the risk of melanoma increases by up to 60%! There are many kinds of self-tanners that look natural. It’s no longer your mother’s self-tanners causing orange tinted skin! Check out this list on Elle of 7 top self-tanning lotions and 10 Best Self-Tanners at selftanning.com.
7. Get Vitamin D through eating healthy fruits and veggies and with supplements. 20 minutes of sun exposure for vitamin D is great, but you don’t need to spend hours outside to get this essential vitamin. 12 Ways to Get Your Daily Vitamin D.
8. Examine your skin monthly for signs of skin cancer. Spend a few minutes while in the shower and look for unusual spots on your skin that are not going away and moles that have changed color or size, or new moles. Also look for wounds that bleed easily and won’t heal after a few weeks. Melanoma is typically an “outlier mole”. It does not look like your other moles. Melanoma warning signs and images
9. Find out what your UV Index forecast is and avoid a lot of sun exposure on high UV days. https://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-1