May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. While we like to focus on preventing skin cancer 365 days a year, now is the perfect time to focus on preventing skin cancer, armed with knowledge. With summer quickly approaching and cabin fever rising, we will inevitably seek the great outdoors for recreation.
Before we go outside without Proper Protection, take a look at these skin cancer fast facts from SkinCancer.org:
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
🧴 Proper Protection.
It should be a no-brainer, yet most people still believe that daily sunscreen is the least important of the products to be purchased. In reality, sunscreens are the first line of treatment in hyperpigmentation and preventing aging! Sunscreens have become more complex and understanding the different forms of UVR is important:
- UVA: These are the longest rays, coolest rays and are present when there is light (even in rain or snow)! They penetrate the deepest, causing significant aging and also contributing to the development of melanoma.
- UVB: These medium-length rays are warm, prevalent in spring and summer, cause erythema (sunburn) and superficial skin cancers (Basal cell and Squamous cell).
Search for a broadband sunscreen (protects your skin from both UVA & UVB rays) to use daily before you leave the house.
☀ The Process of a Sunburn
It all starts with UV radiation, which comes from not only the sun, but also tanning beds. Too much exposure (which can vary from person to person) sets forth a process that results in these 3 things:
- Damage to the skin’s DNA.
- Death of skin cells.
- Erythema, which is a fancy word for acute redness/inflammation of the skin. This is the actual burn that you can see on your skin. Sunburns are usually classified as first degree burns.
Typically, we only think about item #3 above. However, we should be very concerned with every part of UV effects. Changes in the skin’s DNA and cell death are permanent and stay with us forever.
🕒 Timing Matters
- Within 1 hour, skin cells release enzymes that cause inflammation, in an attempt to protect your skin from more UV exposure.
- Within 2 hours, damage to skin cells is visible.
- At 24 hours, you will see peak erythema.
- Damage continues for 72 hours.
😎 Post Sun Tips
Blast free radicals by applying topical serums full of anti-oxidants and aloe. Also incorporate anti-oxidants in your diet like berries, dark chocolate, leafy greens, pecans, apples, and green tea. YUM! Seek shade, stay hydrated, and keep your skin hydrated.