People from around the world flock to Florida for year-round fun in the sun. But living in the “Sunshine State” does have consequences. Florida has the second highest rate of melanoma — the most serious form of skin cancer — in the nation. Fortunately, nearly 90 percent of all skin cancers are preventable, and if detected early, are highly curable.
Individuals who are at highest risk of developing skin cancer tend to have lighter-toned skin, plenty of moles or freckles, have a family history of skin cancer and/or have a history of severe sunburns early in life.
So if you’re finding yourself outdoors more often as our temperatures warm, remember:
* Chose a broad spectrum sunscreen – Apply sunscreen daily that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation, is water resistant and has a SPF of 30 or higher. Other types of sunscreen may help prevent sunburn, but they will not protect against developing skin cancer.
* Practice the shadow rule – If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are at their strongest. You should limit sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Be extra cautious when at the pool or beach – Surfaces like sand and water reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase the chances of sunburn. Limit your exposure and wear protective clothing.
* Find a stylish pair of shades – Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
* Get checked – Regular, thorough skin examinations are important. While this will not prevent skin cancer from developing, it may help to catch it early, when it can be treated easier. Tell your primary care physician if you see any new, unusual or changing moles or growths on your skin.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. So regardless of skin color or family history, no one is immune from the sun’s damaging rays. Skin protection should be a life-long practice for everyone.