It’s time to head outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather. Whether you’re gardening, swimming, playing sports, or simply showing off your pedicure, here’s what you need to know to protect against skin cancer.
Skin should be protected from intense sun exposure by using an umbrella, clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Seek shade when available and use caution near water and sand as both can reflect natural sunlight. The use of tanning beds and sun lamps should be avoided, as these products have been linked to a higher incidence of skin cancer, including melanoma – a deadly form of skin cancer. To obtain a golden glow, consider using tanning lotions or sprays instead.
Changes to Sunscreen Labeling
Effective this summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring sunscreen makers to update their product labels to better educate consumers about the sun protection their products provide. Here are some key changes you’ll notice:
Broad spectrum protection. Prior sunscreen labels dealt almost exclusively with a sunscreen’s ability to protect against sunburns, which are caused by UVB rays. Going forward, labels will also indicate whether the sunscreen protects against skin cancer and premature aging, which are caused by UVA rays. Sunscreen products that protect against UVB and UVA rays and also have an SPF rating of 15 or higher will be labeled as a “broad spectrum” sunscreen. (These are the sunscreens you’ll want to purchase!)
Water resistance. The FDA will ban companies from claiming that a sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat proof”, as this is simply not possible. You’ll now see the term “water resistant” instead. The new labeling will also state whether the product remains effective for 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
The best way to detect skin cancer early is to recognize changes in skin growths. Adults should examine their skin on a monthly basis and notify their physician of new or unusual lesions or a progressive change in a lesion’s appearance (e.g., size, shape, color).
To help with early detection, a free community skin cancer screening is offered again this spring marking the event’s 24th year. The screening will be held on Saturday, May 5 from 8 to 11 a.m. at GraceMed Health Clinic located at 1122 North Topeka in downtown Wichita. Appointments are not necessary. For more information, call (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org/holymoley.
“Protecting your skin from the sunlight’s harmful rays is the most important preventative measure against skin cancer,” said Dr. Krista Shackelford, a board-certified dermatologist with The Dermatology Clinic, P.A. and medical director of the May 5 screening. “The second is detecting skin abnormalities early. This free screening is the perfect opportunity for those who have put off getting checked for any reason. Now, there’s no excuse.”
The screening is sponsored by the following organizations: the American Cancer Society, Via Christi Health, Wichita-area dermatologists, GraceMed Health Clinic, United Way, Project Access, The Coleman Company, Union Rescue Mission, American Academy of Dermatology, and the Medical Society of Sedgwick County.