May is National Skin Care Prevention and Detection Month, and the American Academy of Dermatology is encouraging you to practice safe sun every time you are outdoors.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, and the most treatable when caught early. Most cases of skin cancer are found in people older than 65 years of age, but little attention has been given to ways to reduce skin cancer risk among people in this age group.
As we age, our skin undergoes changes that weaken our defenses against skin disease, accelerating skin aging and increasing our risk for skin cancer. The number one risk factor for seniors is the cumulative sun exposure they’ve had throughout their lifetimes.
Early sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, especially if you experienced frequent sunburns as a child.
No matter your age, gender or race, everyone needs to use protection against the sun. Seek shade, wear protective clothing, and use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30+ to reduce your risk. Sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of most skin cancers, so it’s important to use a good sunscreen daily – even in the winter months.
Limit your outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.
Fair skin, blue eyes or red hair face a greater risk, as well as patients with a weakened immune system.
Exposure to radiation or certain substances like arsenic or coal tar may increase your risk. People who smoke are also more likely to develop skin cancer, especially on the lips.
Regular skin checks by your doctor is key to early detection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you do a head-to-toe self-examination of your skin monthly, and tell your doctor if you see any new, unusual, or changing moles or skin growths.
Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsminooka