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Prevention

While most skin cancers are not life threatening, they are life altering.  And, a small percentage is lethal.  While there have been dramatic improvements in skin cancer treatment, it’s best to avoid skin cancer.

Sunscreen

Apply it before leaving the house and reapply every 2 hours or so if you are outside – more often if you’re swimming.  If you get out of a pool and towel off, even if your sunscreen says “water resistant”, chances are you don’t have any protection left on your skin.

The best sunscreen for you is the one you will wear.  There is no brand that is better than another.  The differences between each one are really how protection is delivered (cream, lotion, spray, powder), how it smells and feels and the SPF.  Buy one you can afford and that’s convenient to use.  We prefer the powder sunscreens that you can brush into the hairline and are non-greasy, but please use whatever works for you.

Buy a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection (blocks UVA and UVB light) and has an SPF over 30.

Avoid Tanning Machines

There has been a 75% increase in melanoma in the last 20 years.  Some attribute this to the widespread use of tanning machines.  We believe that tanning machines are to skin cancer what cigarettes are to lung cancer.  Do not use them.  

There are two forms of UV light: UVA and UVB.  We now believe that UVA light causes premature aging and melanoma.  UVB causes other types of skin cancer.  Tanning machines block a little UVB light, but no UVA light.  When you use a tanning machine, you are bathing in UVA rays, which are linked to melanoma.  Every time you are in a tanning machine, you increase your chances of developing melanoma.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a healthy looking glow.  With the improvements in self and spray tanning technology, there are great alternatives to tanning machines.  A professional spray tan can last 5-10 days and only takes about 15 minutes to apply.  Contact our office if you’d like a referral to a spray tanning salon.

Common Sense

Do not hide from the sun.  Living an active lifestyle outdoors is associated with greater overall health.  Just protect your skin when you’re in it.  Wear a hat if you’re going to be outside for a long period of time and make sure to reapply sunscreen often.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important, but the amount of sun exposure you need is just 15 minutes on just the back of your hands.  Even in the northwest, you’ll get enough walking to and from your car.  Do not use this as an excuse to bath in the sun.