Did you know that your skin is your body's largest organ? It performs many jobs. Your skin gives you a layer of protection from germs and injury. It has nerves that give you the sense of touch. And, it helps you keep a constant body temperature. So it's important to keep your skin healthy.
One of the biggest dangers to your skin's health is skin cancer. In fact, did you know that:
The good news is, you can take steps to help protect yourself from skin cancer. But first, it's helpful to understand a little more about the disease.
There are three types of skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Anyone, from the fairest to the darkest-skinned, can get skin cancer. Everyone needs to be aware of it and to check themselves for new moles or changes to their skin. Still the CDC says some people are at greater risk for developing skin cancer, such as those with:
Some of these things, like eye color and family history, you can’t control. But others you can. And the most important thing you can do is protect yourself from the sun. Ninety percent of skin cancer occurs on parts of the body that are usually uncovered. These include the face, ears, neck, and hands.
Protecting your skin doesn't mean staying indoors. It just means taking smart steps. Here are tips from the American Cancer Society:
Keep in mind, too, that some medicines can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. These include some antibiotics, as well as some diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure medicine.
UV is short for "ultraviolet." UV rays are types of light rays that come from the sun, tanning booths and sunlamps. Light rays called UVA are the ones that age your skin. UVB rays are the ones that can burn it. Both are linked to skin cancer.
SPF stands for "sun protection factor." It looks at how long it takes for your skin to begin to burn with — and without — protection.. Say your skin usually begins to get red after 10 minutes in the sun. An SPF of 15 should let you to stay out 15 times longer, or 150 minutes. But very few people use enough sunscreen to give them the best protection. Be sure to put on at least a palmful 15 minutes before you go into the sun. Put on more sunscreen often, as noted in the list above.
It can be hard to choose the right sunscreen when there are so many. Here are some:
Every time you tan, you damage your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology stresses that there is no safe way to tan. Skin damage builds up over time. Tanning beds give off the same UVA and UVB rays as the sun, and sometimes in higher levels.
Government health experts agree. UV radiation from the sun, and sources such as tanning beds and sun lamps, cause cancer.
If you want to look tan, use a self-tanner. But be sure to use a sunscreen with it.
Check your skin regularly. The AAD says look over your whole body, including back, scalp, palms, sole, and between your toes. An easy way to remember your skin check is to do it every year on your birthday.
See your doctor right away if you find anything unusual. Remember the ABCDEs and get checked every year by a skin doctor, or dermatologist.
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