Six ways to be good to your skin this summer

Health & Fitness

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This story is brought to you by Grand Peaks Medical and Dental, a multi-specialty, nonprofit, Community Health Center in St. Anthony and Rexburg.

Summer has a way of bringing out the best in people. It’s amazing what a little warmth can do after a long, hard winter.

Unfortunately, the sun also brings a lot of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays with it.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most causes of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to UV light.

However, if you want to keep on enjoying the rays, while making sure you and your family are protected, take a look at some tips to protect your skin from the sun and reduce the chance of getting skin cancer.

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  1. Always seek shade when you can: The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A good rule of thumb is to see if your shadow is shorter than you are. If it is, head to some better shade.
  2. Wear protective clothing: Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are always great options in the summer heat.
  3. Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher: People don’t often remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin, about an ounce for an average adult.
  4. Practice caution near snow, sand, and water: These three things can be extremely dangerous because they reflect damaging rays. This can increase your chance of a sunburn.
  5. Avoid tanning beds: Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging. Consider getting a spray tan for an upcoming event where you want that great tan. A tan is actually a sign your skin has been damaged (whether you’re exposed to the sun’s UV rays or from a tanning saloon). Each time you get a tan, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase the chance of all types of skin cancer, including melanoma. In fact, even one indoor tanning session can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent.
  6. Perform regular skin self-exams: This is a great way to detect skin cancer early, which is when it’s most treatable. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist if you notice new or suspicious spots on your skin, any changes, itching or bleeding. Providers at Grand Peaks Medical and Dental are trained to identify areas that are at risk of skin cancer and can remove many of the issues identified. If the area is large or deep, the patient may be referred to a dermatologist.

“Be diligent!” says Dr. Jacob Curtis, medical director at Grand Peaks. “Melanoma can be caught in the early stages. If you see a mole that changes in size, shape, and/or color it should be evaluated to determine if it has abnormal features and should be biopsied.”

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. This would make a great time to schedule a screening with a dermatologist. Click here for more information.