9 Things You Can Do To Avoid Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is on the rise

Many people think that skin cancer typically happens to older people. Unfortunately, at Westchester Health we’re seeing a lot more skin cancer nowadays, even in people in their 20s and 30s.

Alison F. Stallings, MD, FAAD

Men typically develop skin cancer much more than women

For a number of reasons, men develop skin cancer more frequently than women. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, more than half (57%) of those diagnosed with one basal cell carcinoma (BCC) are men. As the number of BCCs increases, the gap gets wider: 62% of people diagnosed with two to five BCCs are men. And for more serious skin cancers, the numbers are even worse. Men account for more than half of new cases of invasive melanoma and almost twice as many deaths. I’ve written a blog about this, “Why More Men Than Women Get Skin Cancer,” which you can read here.

9 important skin cancer prevention habits everyone should follow

At Westchester Health, we want to do everything we can to bring the current skin cancer numbers down. To help accomplish this, we tell our patients to follow the 9 common sense rules below:

  1. Check your skin every day. If it’s hard to remember to do it daily, we tell people to at least do it annually — check their birthday suit on their birthday. See if you have any new growths, a mole that’s changing, a sore that doesn’t heal. If so, come in and see your dermatologist. We also recommend getting a yearly check to make sure you’re not missing anything.
  2. See a dermatologist as soon as you notice an irregular mole, a scaly or crusty area, an unhealed sore or any other unusual skin issue.
  3. Use a broad spectrum UVA and UVB water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher. Daily sunscreen use reduces the risk of developing SCC squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) by 40% and melanoma by 50%.
  4. Apply sunscreen all over, not just the obvious places — face, arms and legs — but also the back, ears, back of the neck, top of the head, hands and feet.
  5. When swimming, wear a swim shirt and water-resistant sunscreen. If you’re swimming or sweating a lot, no matter what number SPF you use, it’s a good idea to reapply approximately every 2 hours or every time after you swim.
  6. Try and seek shade, especially between the peak hours of 10am to 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  7. Cover up with sun-protective clothing. This includes a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  8. Take extra sun precautions near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn and possibly skin cancer.
  9. Avoid tanning beds. A lot of people are still going to tanning beds, which is something we tell our patients to absolutely avoid. Studies show that people who use a tanning bed (even just one time) before age 35 increase their risk for developing melanoma by 75%.

Read our other dermatology blogs

We’ve written several informative blogs about a variety of skin conditions which you can read here.

Worried that you may have skin cancer? Come see us.

If you’ve noticed a suspicious looking mole or other skin issue and think you may be developing skin cancer, or if you want to learn more ways to lower your risk of skin cancer, please call (914) 232-1919 and make an appointment to see one of our Westchester Health dermatologists. We’ll examine you and if necessary, take a sample of the questionable area, have it tested, remove a pre-cancerous or cancerous mole and/or refer you to an oncologist if needed. Just as importantly, we’ll take all the time you need to have your questions answered. Our #1 goal is to help you have healthy skin, now and in the future. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

By Alison F. Stallings, MD, FAAD, a Dermatologist with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

by Blog