This week’s Healthy is Happy Newsletter is written by HCo. Skin Care Specialist, Jillian Ocasio.

May is skin cancer awareness month, and everyone should know their risk. I have spent a significant portion of my career raising skin cancer awareness in New York City. Throughout this process, I was surprised to find that many people weren’t educated on skin cancer and the preventative measures that they can take to stay healthy. The majority of the people I encountered had never seen a dermatologist, let alone had a skin cancer screening. 

Did you know?

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide and can be easily detected with a visual exam. If found early, 99% of all skin cancers are curable.

Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, and everyone is at risk, no matter your skin color or race. However, you are at greater risk if you’re lighter-complected and have a family history of skin cancer. The tips I have outlined below can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. 

Tip #1 Get checked

Get checked! Find a local Dermatologist who can perform a skin cancer screening. Exams are typically covered by insurance and take about 10-15 min. If you have a family history or have been diagnosed with skin cancer in the past, your dermatologist may recommend you have an exam twice a year. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and there’s a substantial genetic component. If you have a family history of Melanoma, book a skin exam right away. 

Tip #2 Apply sunscreen

Apply sunscreen to reduce exposure to UV Rays: apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Re-apply every 2 hours, especially if you’re sweating or swimming.

Tip #3 Wear protective clothing

Applying the SPF application alone is not enough. Today, the sun is stronger than ever. If you’re outside during peak sun hours, ensure you have protective gear on for an extra layer of protection.

Tip #4 Wear a hat and sunglasses

Skin cancer commonly develops in the scalp and ears. These areas are exposed to direct sun and are typically missed when applying SPF. Always wear a hat, especially when shade isn’t available. UVA and UVB sun can damage your eyes, creating short and long-term damage. Sunglasses are essential. 

Tip #5 Avoid peak sun hours

Limit sun exposure during peak hours! The sun is strongest from 10 AM – 4 PM. Don’t be fooled. Even when the weather is overcast, you are at risk to severe sunburn. 

Skin cancer is prevalent today because the ozone layer is deteriorating. The earth’s ozone layer shields us from harmful ultraviolet radiation. A diminished ozone layer allows more UV radiation to reach the earth’s surface, which causes an increased rate of skin cancer and other health issues for humans.  Consider incorporating a skin cancer screening into your health plan, like an annual physical and eye exam. Getting checked out is essential and can save your life. 

May is skin cancer awareness month. Spread the word!

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