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May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to choose Seattle Skin and Laser to be a part of your skin cancer prevention and education. Few people realize that small increments of daily sun exposure like driving in your car or a quick walk around the neighborhood with your pup, contribute to collective sun damage which can contribute to your personal risk of skin cancers. This is why wearing sunscreen daily can lower your risk and keep your skin looking younger and healthier longer. Of course, laying in the sun for extended periods of time also adds to your risk especially when you burn. Due to the risk of burning many people turn to indoor tanning for the esthetic look as well as trying to avoid burning for a planned vacation.
It is a common misconception that indoor tanning is safer then tanning outdoors and is even good to do before a sunny vacation. In fact, a tan of any kind is an injury to the skin just like sunburns. Tanning in general whether you are burning or not, still causes damage and scarring which can lead to skin cancer and premature aging- wrinkles and pigmentation issues. According to the CDC, “people who begin tanning younger than age 35 have a 75% higher risk of melanoma.” Melanoma is a life threatening form of skin cancer that requires surgery and in some cases chemotherapy and radiation to treat.
The best way to protect yourself from skin cancers like Melanoma as well as premature aging is by following these important guidelines:
- Avoid indoor tanning, even one time can be damaging to your skin.
- Wear sunscreen on sun exposed areas daily (ie. face, ears, scalp, neck, chest, forearms and hands) and re-apply every 2-3 hours.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat when spending time outdoors (ie. gardening)
- Find shade instead of sitting directly in the sun.
*Schedule a skin exam at least once a year to monitor your moles and spots, or sooner if you notice changes.