There are plenty of benefits to living in a sunny state like Arizona. You get to fill your time with outdoor activities like golf or watersports, you have a lower risk of depression, and you absorb a healthy dose of vitamin D to keep your bones strong. Warm weather tends to draw people outside, tending to improve their chances of getting regular exercise too, at least when it’s not too hot.
All of these perks come at the cost of an increased risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. The top three types of skin cancer –– basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma –– are all associated with ultraviolet (UV) light exposure and tend to show up on sun-exposed areas of skin.
The good news? You don’t have to accept skin cancer as an inevitability of living in our sunny state. Early detection of skin cancer leads to positive treatment outcomes, with many people finding a cure for their skin cancer before it spreads. Arizona Center for Cancer Care offers the latest treatments for skin cancer in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Anthem, Peoria, Fountain Hills, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Sun City, Sun City West, Goodyear, and Tempe, Arizona.
Our team encourages you to protect your skin from the sun so you can lower your risk of getting skin cancer in the first place. With summer just around the corner, here are a few practices to start now:
Sunscreen is a type of product that shields your skin from UV sun rays, which can damage the DNA in your skin cells and cause them to grow and multiply abnormally. Sunscreen can significantly lower your skin cancer risk regardless of your age or natural skin tone.
The only people who shouldn’t have sunscreen on their skin every day are babies six months or younger, but you can safeguard them with sun-protective clothing and shady structures like umbrellas.
Every sunscreen product has a sun protective factor (SPF) listed on the container. This number indicates how long the sun would take to burn your skin compared to the baseline. If you have an SPF 15 product, for example, it would take your skin 15 minutes longer to burn than it would if it was bare.
Even if you use high-SPF sunscreen, you should reapply it thoroughly every two hours to be sure it stays effective throughout the day. You should choose products with an SPF of 30 or higher if you spend lots of time outside, preferably water-resistant options.
Certain clothing articles can offer protection from harmful UV rays, thus lowering your risk of skin cancer. Sun-protective clothing exists from some retailers, and some regular clothing offers more protection based on its type of fabric and color.
While selecting an outfit for a day out in the sun, consider wearing:
While choosing clothing for sun protection, you’ll want to find a good balance. For example, though thicker fabrics offer more sun protection than sheer fabrics, the outside temperature may be too hot for you to wear them.
In addition to your shirts and pants, grab a hat before you go. Hats with two- or three-inch brims can protect your face and eyes from the sun’s brightest rays.
UV rays can damage your skin cells’ DNA and cause precancer or skin cancer even when it’s cloudy. If possible, you should minimize your time outdoors during the hours of the day when UV rays are at their strongest. This is usually between 10am and 4pm. If you must be outdoors during these hours, be sure to follow our other tips for sun protection religiously.
Examining your own skin and getting professional skin exams gives you the opportunity to detect skin cancer and precancerous lesions early. Find out more about skin cancer and sun protection by calling the nearest Arizona Center for Cancer Care office, or book a visit online today.