As summer approaches, so do the days of sun, sand, outdoor bbqs, lazy afternoons in the park, and tank tops. Unfortunately, along with the warmer months comes the risk of sun damage and subsequently skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more than 2 million cases diagnosed annually. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
I spoke to board certified dermatologist Dr. Ashley Magovern, DermStore.com’s Medical Director and founder of Manhattan Dermatology, who told me that skin cancer prevention is simple. “Skin cancer is not only the most common form of cancer, it’s one of the most preventable,” she says. “We need to educate the public on taking proper preventative measures to minimize their risk.”
Below are a few steps recommended by Dr. Magovern to make sure you do not become a skin cancer statistic (follow Dr. Magovern on Facebook for more useful skin care tips!):
- “Daily use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 is ok for the person who is truly indoors all day and does not get sun exposure. But, for most of us who have sunny commutes and like to enjoy some outdoor time during the workday, I recommend people to find at least a SPF 30 that they can use every day,” she stated. “Formulations are so good these days, it is hard not to find an elegant cream or lotion that moisturizes, protects and can be worn under makeup. If you are out all day on the weekends, bump it up and reapply often. Don’t forget the neck and chest!”
Dr. Magovern recommends La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Lotion. “My patients love this broad spectrum sunscreen and so do I,” she stated. “It not only protects you from the sun’s rays, but helps reverse and prevent further sun damage and photoaging.”
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. “In addition to causing premature aging, tanning beds are proven to cause cancer,” she confirmed. “What worries me the most is that indoor tanners are putting themselves at risk for developing malignant melanoma, which can be fatal. Those that use indoor tanning machines are increasing their risk by about 75% versus those that do not use them. The Skin Cancer Foundation launched a wonderful campaign that I hope everyone can adopt. It’s called Go With Your Own Glow and it encourages people to embrace their natural skin tone.”
- Schedule a yearly skin exam with your physician and perform at home exams on a monthly basis. “It’s important that you have a physician examine your skin once a year,” Dr. Magovern says. “You should take special note of moles and birthmarks and see a doctor if they change color, increase in size or appear irregular in shape. I also tell my patients that if you have a gut feeling about a particular lesion, it’s best to make an appointment.”