Health Tips > Prevention Plus > Sun Protection and Prevention Can Decrease Risk of Skin Cancer

Sun Protection and Prevention Can Decrease Risk of Skin Cancer

View All Section Pages

Sun Protection and Prevention Can Decrease Risk of Skin Cancer

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, and about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. When it comes to keeping your skin healthy, prevention is key and your dermatologist can help keep you on track.

When Should You Be Screened?

“Your skin is your largest organ, and it is constantly evolving and changing,” says Helen G. Kaporis, DO, FAAD. “It’s important to know what’s normal for your skin and what isn’t, which is why an annual skin cancer screening is crucial to your health.”

Dr. Kaporis notes you should check your own skin once a quarter, which means looking for changing and new lesions. “Ideally patients should look for any and all changes in size, shape, color and texture texture." 

Some areas of the skin can be more difficult to check on your own, such as on the ears, buttocks and scalp. A yearly trip to the dermatologist can give a head-to-toe checkup to catch the places you can’t see yourself and to determine if lesions are normal. 

More frequent screenings are recommended based on medical skin cancer history. Annual skin exams are recommended for everyone. “If someone has a history of melanoma, he or she requires a checkup every three months for two years, then every six months for a year and annually afterwards. If someone is diagnosed with a skin cancer other than melanoma, it’s a good idea to be checked again, six months after your initial diagnosis.” Once you have had one skin cancer, you’re more susceptible to developing others.

The Effects of Sunburns and Tanning

Any change in the color of your skin, whether it is a tan or burn is evidence of damaged skin and mutated DNA, respectively. Even just one bad sunburn can increase your risk of getting skin cancer–the more sunburns you have, the higher the risk of developing cancer.

“Tanning also increases the risk of skin cancer and results in premature aging,” says Dr. Kaporis. “If you like being tan, I hope you like wrinkles! Tanning breaks down your collagen and causes premature aging.” If maintaining a tan is important to you, Dr. Kaporis suggests trying a sunless tanning product, such as St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse, which is available at Cooper Clinic.

Sunburn Treatment

If you happen to get sunburned, the damage is irreversible but Dr. Kaporis suggests a few ways to reduce pain and recover. 

  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation.
  • Use aloe vera to cool the skin. You can put it in the refrigerator to add an extra feeling of relief when applied.
  • If you have blisters, visit your dermatologist for a prescription to help the blisters heal and to prevent infection.

“Sunburns incite permanent damage to the skin,” says Dr. Kaporis. Sunburns increase the risk of developing precancers and skin cancers later in life. Reversing sun damage and premature aging can be attempted through some prescription medications that that can boost your immune system, retinoids, and in-office procedures such as medium depth chemical peels and Co2 lasers. However, reversing the appearance of sun damage, doesn't mean you can completely erase your risk of developing skin cancer due to previous sun exposure.

Prevent Skin Damage

Incorporating protective skin care habits into your daily routine can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer or premature aging from the sun.

  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily, even during the winter months.
  • Wear wide brim hats, sunglasses, and UPF (ultraviolet protection factor ) clothing.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
  • Avoid indoor and outdoor tanning. 

For more information about Cooper Clinic Dermatology and skin cancer screening, visit cooperclinicdermatology.com or call 972.367.6000.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications