According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. That makes skin cancer the most common form of cancer in the US and around the world! Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can grow aggressively and spread to other parts of the body if not detected early enough. Not only do UVA/UVB rays affect your health, but an estimated 90 percent of visible skin aging is caused by the sun! The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented and it has a great margin of treatment success when detected and treated early. A combination of daily sun protection, annual skin checks and protective clothing can drastically decrease your probability of getting skin cancer and the effects of visible photo aging.
When it comes to rub on sun protection, there are two different types- chemical and physical. Physical sunblocks use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a barrier on the skin to filter out UVA and UVB rays. They are great for sensitive skin and are less likely to irritate rosacea-prone and acne-prone skin. On occasion, they can have a white cast due to the mineral actives. Chemical sunscreens contain compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone that absorb the UVA/UVB rays and scatters them. Chemical sunscreens can have a thinner consistency without a white cast, but can irritate some skin conditions and the eyes. It can also clog pores in those who are acne-prone. Sunscreen should be worn everyday on exposed skin (even when it is cloudy!) and reapplied every one or two hours. Some modern sunscreen formulations are extremely elegant, don’t cause a white cast, and can even be touched up over makeup!
Every sunburn increases your chance of getting skin cancer. As diligent as you may be with sun protection, nobody is perfect! Everyone, regardless of skin color, should get annual skin checks. There is no specific age to start, but it is not uncommon for people in their early 20s to notice new or changing spots on their skin. Diligent self exams and annual skin checks are the best way to catch skin cancer early and get it treated. New spots regardless of one’s age, spots that look different than your other ones, sores that won’t heal, current spots that are changing in appearance or shiny white/pink bumps are cause for concern and should be checked by a Board-Certified Dermatologist.