The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause abnormal cell growth, making skin cancer the most common type of cancer in both the United States and worldwide.
Skin cancer takes different forms, including the most common types: basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanoma.
It often shows up on areas of your skin that get the most sun, like your face, ears, arms, chest, and legs, but skin cancer can appear almost anywhere on your body. And while over two Americans die each hour from skin cancer, it’s highly treatable with a 99% survival rate when caught and addressed early.
That’s why our team of board-certified dermatologists at Manhattan Dermatology in New York City offer skin cancer screenings to check for signs of precancerous and cancerous growths.
In addition, you can take steps to minimize your chances of developing skin cancer. Here are our five favorite ways to lower your risk of getting common skin cancers.
Be sun safe
The No. 1 way to lower your risk of skin cancer is by minimizing your exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Since this mostly comes from the sun, you can protect your skin health and be sun safe by:
- Applying sunscreen with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher every day, rain or shine
- Reapplying sunscreen every two hours or after getting wet
- Limiting your time in the sun, especially during peak hours (10am- 2pm)
- Seeking shade when outdoors
- Wearing sun-shielding accessories, like wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses
- Opting for long-sleeved shirts and pants that cover your legs
If you’re spending long periods of time in the sun, wear clothes labeled with added ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) when possible.
Healthy body for healthier skin
If you want to lower your risk of skin cancer, remember that a healthy body means healthier skin. For example, drinking plenty of water is good for your body, and it keeps your skin hydrated and less likely to suffer damage.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco, as these products inhibit skin repair and regeneration. Switch to a diet centered on plants, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, which give your skin the nutrients and antioxidants it needs for optimal health.
Fit in regular exercise that makes you break a sweat, which helps remove toxins and provides an anti-inflammatory effect. And get enough high-quality sleep each night so your body has time to repair and regenerate any damaged cells.
Protect your skin no matter the season
The summer months are here, so you need to protect your skin during this sunniest time of the year. But on cloudy days and during the darker winter months, it’s still important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
These rays move through clouds, windows, and light-colored clothes. And when the sunshine hits the snow or ice, the reflection intensifies your UV exposure. So regardless of the weather or season, protect your skin.
Stay on top of your skin
You know your body better than anyone else, which is why regular self-examinations are an effective way to lower your risk of skin cancer. Start by becoming familiar with your existing freckles, moles, and other marks.
Stay on top of them by regularly checking for any changes in size, shape, color, or texture. Note any new growths that develop or skin lesions that don’t heal, and if you see anything that concerns you, don’t hesitate to call us at Manhattan Dermatology.
Schedule and keep routine skin checks
Regular skin checks with a dermatologist are one of the best ways to lower your risk for common skin cancers. If you have routine exams, your provider gets to know your skin and helps monitor it for any potential problems, ensuring an early diagnosis and treatment.
Everyone, regardless of skin tone, should have an annual skin check. We may recommend more frequent skin checks if you have risk factors that increase your chances of developing a common skin cancer, like:
- Blonde or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
- Skin that sunburns or freckles easily
- A large number of moles (>50)
- A history of unusual or irregular moles
- A family history of melanoma
- A history of using tanning beds or machines
- A history of sunburns, particularly if you blistered
You may also be a candidate for more frequent exams if you’ve had an organ transplant or you have a job or hobbies that increase your time spent in the sun.
Keep your skin healthy by scheduling a skin cancer check online or over the phone at Manhattan Dermatology in Murray Hill or Midtown East in Manhattan, New York City.