May: National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

imageAs summer fast-approaches, not only do May’s flowers bloom, but the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays also intensify, and daylight hours extend. So, it is fitting that May is skin cancer awareness month. Because bottom line – UV, in high doses, is a carcinogenic to the skin.

While skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer in the majority of cases. The Skin Cancer Foundation appointed May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month to broadly educate the public about preventive measures.

About the Skin Cancer Foundation

The Skin Cancer Foundation “is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection, and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research.”

Skin Cancer Foundation Prevention Guidelines


  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest.
  • Use the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger.
  • Do not burn.
  • A person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she had had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
  • Severe burns not only significantly increase your chances of developing skin cancer, but can make you ill.

Tanning Booths

  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • UV radiation from tanning machines is known to cause cancer in humans.
  • Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors.
  • Tanning bed users are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

Sun-Protective Clothing

  • Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection – wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Densely woven and bright- or dark-colored fabrics offer the best defense.


  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • One six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should provide two full days of sun protection for prolonged outdoor activity.

Children’s Sun Protection

  • Keep newborns out of the sun since their skin is extremely vulnerable.
  • Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation- just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.

Skin Checks

*My two cents: ideally, have a full-body skin exam by a local dermatologist.

Categories: General, Sun Protection


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