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7 Tips To Prevent Skin Cancer

7 Tips To Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a widespread problem. In fact, it’s the most common type diagnosed in the United States, and 1 in 5 develop the condition by the time they reach 70. Worse yet, more than two people die of it every hour.

Despite these frightening numbers, most cases are also easy to prevent. That’s because approximately 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers — and 85% of highly malignant melanoma skin cancers — occur exclusively because of sun damage. 

More simply put? If you limit your exposure to damaging UVA and UVA rays, you can limit your chances of developing this condition.

Our team at Orange Coast Dermatology specializes in diagnosing and treating skin conditions, like skin cancer, at each of our locations in Rancho Santa Margarita, Orange, and Mission Viejo, California.

While we offer cutting-edge treatments for skin cancer, including Mohs surgery, our team would rather prevent it from developing.

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here are seven tips to keep your skin safe and cancer-free this May.

1. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen

There’s a lot to love about California, especially the sunshine. However, those sunny skies also mean you shouldn’t leave home without a generous layer of SPF 30 or higher full-spectrum sunscreen.

Our team recommends using sunscreens with mineral-based blocks that form a protective barrier on the skin. These formulas reflect UVA and UVB rays, unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb them. 

2. Understand your exposure risks

Most people are good about using sunscreen when hiking or heading to the beach. But those aren’t the only places you get doused with damaging sunlight.

Even a brisk walk across the parking lot exposes you to UVA and UVB rays that can change the DNA in your skin cells. 

And you’re not necessarily safe inside, either. Driving in your car and sitting by a sunny window also exposes you to damaging sunlight—even if you’re at home, in an office, or enjoying a quick bite at a restaurant.

3. Watch those rays

Those sunny skies may feel good, and you may love a glowing tan, but the sun can also be abusive.

Fortunately, you can still enjoy the sun by planning ahead. Whether you hike, surf, or just dash across town, our team recommends doing it when the sun is low in the sky. 

Generally speaking, the sun is highest in the sky, often between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. So, whenever possible, schedule your outdoor sporting events and get-togethers around these hours. 

If you can’t avoid these times of day, seek the shade of trees, umbrellas, and other sun shelters to minimize your exposure.

4. Protect yourself

While you shouldn’t leave home without sunscreen, even the best products can’t protect your skin on their own. But you can help it with other methods of protection.

For instance, try walking in the shade and wearing wide-brimmed hats and light, flowing clothing. For added protection, look for fabrics with sunblock woven into them. 

5. Remember what “tan” really means

People often associate tanned skin with a healthy glow. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.


Instead, tanned skin equals damaged skin. In reality, that tan is really your skin’s attempt to protect itself from the sun’s rays.


And there’s more bad news. You can’t get a “safer” tan by heading to a salon, either. In fact, that strategy can cause even more severe damage since tanning salons use ultraviolet rays, which are a lot closer to you than the sun.


If you can't accept your natural skin tone, try a nontoxic spray tan. It may not last as long as the real thing, but it will improve the health of your skin.

6. Check your skin regularly

Skin cancer usually starts as changes to a preexisting mole or a new lesion. Your first line of defense is to get familiar with your skin so you can spot changes quickly.


Our team recommends doing your own skin check each month from top to bottom, including between your toes and the bottoms of your feet. 


Skin cancer often appears in sun-exposed areas first, but that’s not always true. So, the more thorough you can check, the better.

7. Schedule professional skin cancer screening

Finally, performing your own skin check is crucial, but it’s hard to view every area of your body that could develop skin cancer, including the back of your scalp. Plus, it’s not easy knowing what you’re looking at, even if you do find something unusual on your skin.


Our team offers annual skin cancer screenings, which offer two primary benefits. First, they can give you peace of mind. Second, they ensure we can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to cure. 


However, if you notice skin changes, a skin lesion, or a worrisome mole or skin lesion, don’t wait to contact us to have it checked.

This May, take action for Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Call or book online to schedule a skin cancer screening at the Orange Coast Dermatology location nearest you.

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