Skin cancer is one of the most common yet preventable cancers that goes especially under-acknowledged in the melanated skin community.
Because darker skin tones have a natural SPF 13, making sunburn and visible sun irritation less common, many people believe they can get away with taking less sun protection measures. This is a false and dangerous assumption that puts you at risk of developing skin cancer and other skin ailments.
Here are a few commandments to live by to ensure you keep your precious skin healthy and cancer free.
The 4 Sun-Safety Commandments
- UV protection: Repeat after me… “I will apply sunscreen every morning and will reapply at least every two hours as well as after swimming and sweating when I’m in the sun for a prolonged period of time.” UV protection also includes covering up with long sleeves and pants, a hat and sunglasses whenever possible.
- Sun-safe behavior: If you can, avoid direct sunlight when UV rays are at their peak, which is generally from 10am to 2pm. If outdoors during this time, try to enjoy the bright, sunny weather from a shady spot. Remember, you still need UV protection even when you’re under cover, as the sun’s rays reflect off many surfaces, especially sand.
- Perform self exams: Always know what is on your own body and take notice of any changes (don’t hesitate to seek a professional opinion if you do observe something out of the ordinary).
- Annual skin checks: I recommend annual full body exams for everyone, and more frequent skin checks for anyone at an elevated risk for skin cancer, such as those with a personal or family history, fair skin and/or red hair, and anyone who was a sun worshipper in the past. These quick checkups catch most skin cancers early, which improves the chances of successful treatment. Regular full body exams are also important because innocent-looking brown or pink moles aren’t always benign — and only a dermatologist can make this determination..
The best solution is always prevention, so be sure to keep these 4 vital commandments in your back pocket at all times