It’s Week 2 of Our Skin Cancer Awareness Series:
With temperatures getting warmer it’s important that we’re aware of the need to practice sun safety frequently and consistently. By practicing sun safety, we can reduce our risk of skin cancer significantly.
Making sure that your skin (face, ears, neck, arms, legs, chest etc.) is protected from harmful UV rays is the easiest step! Always remember to choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant with a minimum of SPF 30-50 with UVA and UVB coverage to protect the deeper level of your skin (dermis) as well as the top layer (Health Link BC, 2018). If you have a darker skin tone and are worried about a white cast, chemical sunscreens are a great option that provides broad spectrum coverage, and leaves no white cast on the skin. If sensitive skin is an issue a physical/mineral sunscreen might leave a white cast but is less irritating. Even if your sunscreen has a high rating, no sunscreen protects you all day, make sure you frequently reapply every 2-3 hours! (Health Link BC, 2018)
Check UV Index!
In Canada, UV indexes range from 0 -11+, with the higher UV numbers being the riskiest of sun exposure (Government of Canada, 2018). Every weather site/app has a daily UV Index monitor. When the UV Index is 3 or higher, it’s time to lather on that sunscreen and cover up! Between 11 am to 3pm, the UV rays in Canada are usually the highest and therefore the most important times of day to be wearing sunscreen and covering up exposed areas (Government of Canada, 2018).
Slip on a floppy hat/baseball cap that shields your face from the harsh rays, and try to wear loose, long and comfortable clothing that can cover your arms and legs or any other exposed area while you’re out in the sun. Sunglasses with UV protection ratings are also necessary for protecting our eyes (American Academy of Dermatology, n.d). Not only do these tips help prevent a nasty sunburn, they also help protect against skin cancer which might be hard to detect or miss.
Sun protection is the first step of preventing skin cancer, but the second and equally important step is to perform self checks!
- Ask yourself: is a mole/spot/open sore that I’m noticing changing in colour/size/not healing within 3 weeks? If you think the answer is yes, it might be time for a doctor’s visit (Skin Cancer Foundation, 2020).
- Check yourself in front of a full body mirror for anything that seems new, unusual or growing. Skin Cancer Foundation (2020) lists these steps as an easy way to self-check:
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary”
~ Mandy Hale
- Campbell, L. (2019, March 13). 7 Common Tanning Myths, Busted. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/base-tan-debunk#Myth-3:-People-with-darker-skin-dont-need-to-worry-about-using-sunscreen
- Canada, E. A. (2018, October 30). UV index and sun safety. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/weather-health/uv-index-sun-safety.html
- Prevent skin cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/prevent/how
- Protecting Your Skin from the Sun. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/tv6658spec
- Self-Exams. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.skincancer.org/early-detection/self-exams/