Skin cancer awareness month: Protect your skin and your health

By now, we’ve had it drilled into our heads to wear sunscreen, wear sunscreen (hear the familiar chant?). The more common the phrase, the more chronic are health concerns. With May being skin cancer awareness month, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

With summer just around the corner, sunscreen should be your ultimate head-to-toe accessory.

If more temporary consequences from the sun will make you grab your SPF, read the following:

  • Your pores will get bigger. Contrary to popular thought, pore size is not genetic. Over time, the pores of those who worship the sun will hypertrophy and increase in width, creating a rough, patchy texture on the skin.
  • Your other skin conditions will get worse. The sun can irritate skin conditions like eczema, melasma, vitiligo and even acne. This can cause tone changes that range from hyperpigmentation to scarring.
  • Get ready for wrinkles. Between UVB rays and UVA rays, it’s the latter that cause premature aging of the skin. And, contrary to popular belief, people who have more melanin in their skin are not immune to their effects.

Don’t forget to keep in mind these easy everyday sun care tips from dermatology expert Jeanine B. Downie, M.D.:

  • Slather up. Rain or shine, apply sunscreen every day.
  • Don’t rely on tinted moisturizers. Remember that foundations and tinted moisturizers with SPF are makeup, meaning that you apply it heavier to some areas and lighter to others. For full sun protection, use a mattifying, oil-free sunscreen underneath any face makeup.
  • See your dermatologist annually. In order to best analyze your skin, doctors need to see your skin as close as possible to its natural tone. So make an appointment when you haven’t hit the beach just quite yet.
  • Spray your feet. In addition to applying to your ears, nose, back, shoulders and knees, be sure to get your feet. People get accidentally burned in these places most often, because this is where the sun is hitting them when they go outside for lunch.
  • Keep sunscreen in the car. Get in the habit and keep face and body block in your car so that you have it handy whenever you feel the need for application.
  • Don’t rationalize tanning with a need for vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies have been a hot topic in the dermatology world. Some people think that if they’re deficient, they have license to sit in the sun, but one person dies from melanoma every 62 minutes. Get your daily vitamin D from oral supplements and eating well.
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