With such a variety of recreational opportunities in our community it’s easy to forget that we live in the desert. A sunburn or tan will fade, but damage to deeper layers of skin remains and can eventually cause cancer. That's why sun-safe habits should begin in childhood and last a lifetime.
Skin Cancer Prevention
- Maximize protection during peak sun hours 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat, and long sleeved shirts and pants made of tightly woven fabric.
Wear UV-protective sunglasses with 99%-100% UV absorption.
- Seek shade during peak sun hours. Remember the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
- Use a sun block of SPF 15 or higher and apply a generous amount (about a tablespoonful) 20-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 90 minutes or after swimming, towel drying or perspiring even if the label says waterproof.
- Avoid the use of tanning beds.
- Visit the Melanoma Foundation's website to learn more about the dangers for teens and young adults from tanning outdoors and in tanning beds.
Signs of Skin Cancer
Know what to look for: If you notice any of the following changes in moles on your skin, tell your doctor right away.
- Asymmetry: Draw a line through the mole. If the two halves don’t match, then they’re asymmetrical. In a normal mole the two halves will match.
- Border: The border of your mole should be even. An uneven border could be an early sign of melanoma.
- Color: Your mole should be one shade of one color. Your mole should not be a variety of colors or several different shades of brown, tan or black. Melanomas may also become red, white or blue.
- Diameter: Melanomas are usually bigger than a pencil eraser, but can be smaller when first detected.
- Evolving: See your doctor if your mole changes in any way, such as its shape, color or elevation and/or begins to bleed, itch or crust.
Some melanomas do not fit the A,B,C,D,E rules described above, so it’s important for you to notice changes in your skin, such as markings or new spots.
Other symptoms are:
- A sore that does not heal
- A new growth
- Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
- Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
- Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness or pain
Download the Sun Safety Handout, PDF (109KB) which offers information that can help protect against skin cancer.