Four tips for protecting your skin
Finally, the days are longer and warmer. As many of us are heading outside – either to work or play – it’s important to remember to practice skin safety.
More skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined. May is recognized as Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which encourages you to protect your skin and check for early signs of skin cancer.
Four tips for checking your skin
Do a skin check: Examine your skin using full-length and hand-held mirrors. Skin cancer can develop even in areas not normally exposed to the sun. Be sure to check the bottoms of your hands and feet, armpits and even personal areas for abnormalities.
This handy skin exam infographic from MHealthy is an at-a-glance reminder of key areas to check. Be diligent and if you see or feel any irregularities on your skin, have it checked immediately.
Check regularly. Monthly self-exams are recommended. When found and treated early, skin cancer can usually be cured. Recommended skin cancer screenings are also covered under all U-M health plans (copays apply).
Know your skin. Be aware of your normal pattern of moles, freckles, blemishes and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any changes next time.
Know your ABCDEs. Skin cancers can show up in many shapes and sizes. The American Cancer Society’s website includes possible signs, including an easy to remember ABCDE rule that helps you identify if your mole or mark might be skin cancer. If you have concerns about your skin, talk to your doctor.
Four tips to protect your skin
- Seek the shade. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when UV light is strongest. If you’re planning to mow the lawn or heading out for a walk, consider doing so before or after these hours.
- Cover up. When possible, wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, or a long skirt to cover the most skin. And don’t forget to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. The U-M vision plan covers sun tinting of plastic lenses, gradient tints, and glass gray #3 prescription sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are also an eligible medical expense in U-M’s health care flexible spending account.
- Use sunscreen. Choose a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. If you are enrolled in U-M’s health care flexible spending account, over-the-counter sunscreen products with SPF 15 or higher are considered eligible medical expenses.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Tanning beds that give out UVA and/or UVB rays have been linked with an increased risk of melanoma.
This story first appeared in UHR News. Click here to subscribe!