Skip to main content

Challenge – Can you be Sun-Smart for 31 days in a row?

By , On , In Dr. Ben Wiese

Breaking a bad habit or starting a healthy new routine can be really hard, I know! But with the right motivation and support, change is possible.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and therefore I want to challenge you to protect your skin from the sun every day for a full month. You will have global support as thousands of people around the world unite during the month of May to spread awareness about skin cancer and to encourage people to be sun-smart.

Skin cancer can happen to people of any age, ethnicity, and gender. While skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, the good news is that it is very preventable, particularly if detected early. Nearly 85% of melanoma and 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are linked with exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Knowing your risks of developing skin cancer and protecting your skin is the key to cutting down on your cancer risk.

It’s never too early or late to safeguard your skin from sun damage. Children should be taught about skin protection at an early age,in order to instill life-long habits of protecting their skin from the sun. Elderly people too can stop further damage to their skin even if they have a history of previous sun exposure.

As we have entered Skin Cancer Awareness Month, let’s pledge to protect our skin from the sun. Here are some expert tips to lower your risk of developing skin cancer:

Seek the Shade:

Try being in the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the rays from the sun are at its strongest. Follow the “Shadow Rule,” according to which, if your shadow is shorter than your real size, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is strong and if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.

Avoid Sunburns:

People’s risk of developing melanoma doubles if they have a history of five or more sunburns at any point in their lives.

Avoid UV Tanning Beds/Booths:

Research has shown that tanning machines can cause cancer in humans. The more time an individual spends tanning indoors, the higher the cancer risk.

Wear Protective Clothing & Accessories:

Densely woven clothing with dark or bright colored fabric offers the best defense. Try wearing a hat with a broad brim and UV-blocking sunglasses when going out in the sun.

Use a Board-Spectrum Sunscreen:

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day of the year. If you happen to indulge in outdoor activities for long, use a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and reapply it every 2 hours.

  • Apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen onto your entire body half an hour before going out in the sun. Reapplication of the sunscreen is recommended every two hours or instantly after heavy sweating or swimming.
  • While a sunscreen can be used on infants over six months of age, they should mainly be protected by clothing and shade. Children are more sensitive to UV rays and a single sunburn can up their chance of developing skin cancer later in life.

Examine Your Skin Monthly:

This is a great way to find early warning signs of skin cancer.Promptly see a physician if you find any change in an existing mole or spot any new mark that fails to heal after a few weeks.

Visit Your Physician Once a Year:

Nothing can replace a skin exam by a skin cancer physician. Therefore, if you are at high risk, it is recommended that you visit your skin cancer specialist once a year for a full-body exam.

Our skin works hard to protect our body. Let’s take up the challenge to be kind to our skin and to protect it in return!