It’s May, which means it’s officially Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Observed during a month that marks a crucial shift in seasons and time spent in the sun for much of the country, it serves as a reminder about the importance of understanding, preventing, and detecting skin cancer—particularly melanoma—the number one cancer in America.

As Floridians, protecting yourself and your loved ones is highly important. Keep reading for prevention tips, strategies, and essential measures to shield from harmful UV radiation.

Prevention and Self-Examination

Preventing skin cancer begins with adopting sun-safe habits and being proactive about skin health. A large part of this means education.

While the best way to stay safe is to stay in the shade and avoid direct exposure entirely, we understand that isn’t realistic. Instead, limit exposure to the sun (especially during peak hours between 10am and 4pm) and wear protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with UV protection when you’re outdoors.

Additionally, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, applying it generously and reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Since avoiding the sun entirely is virtually impossible, self-examinations are an important way to detect any abnormalities early. Conduct a thorough self-examination of your skin every month to detect any changes or abnormalities. Use mirrors to examine areas that are hard to see, including the scalp, back, and buttocks. Look for new moles, changes in size, shape, or color of existing moles, and any unusual skin growths or lesions.

Finally, when in doubt, turn to the professionals. We recommend scheduling an annual skin screening with a dermatologist, especially if you have a family history of skin cancer, numerous moles, or spend a lot of time in the sun. Identifying suspicious lesions early on helps us catch anything suspect early on and manage any skin cancers we might find before they turn deadly.

Protection Against Harmful UV Rays

In addition to taking preventive measures, protecting yourself from harmful UV rays greatly reduces the risk of skin cancer.

While it may seem obvious, it’s also a crucial part of protection: use sunscreen daily. Incorporate sunscreen into your daily skincare routine, even on cloudy days or during winter months. Opt for water-resistant formulas and apply them to all exposed skin areas.

There are two main types of sunscreen physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen works immediately, sits on top of the skin to reflect the UV rays off, and is ideal for sensitive skin. Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, takes around thirty minutes to take effect, absorbs harmful rays, and is great for athletes who sweat a lot.

Although utilizing SPF is important, what you wear can also have an impact. Choose clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings to block UV radiation effectively. Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats offer added protection when spending time outdoors.

Finally, practice mindful sun exposure: Enjoy outdoor activities responsibly by taking breaks in shaded areas, wearing protective gear, and avoiding prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak UV hours.

By prioritizing skin health and implementing these preventive measures, individuals can minimize their risk of skin cancer and contribute to early detection efforts. The proactive measures you take today can protect your skin’s health for years to come. Schedule your annual skin check today and enjoy the summer in peace:  (727) 545-3376. 

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