Skin Smart Initiative
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States that will affect nearly one and five Americans in their lifetimes.1 The two most common forms of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) are highly curable but can lead to unwanted scarring or disfigurement. Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer and can be deadly. However, there are preventative measures that can reduce your chance of developing skin cancer like limiting ultraviolet light (UV) exposure from sunlight or artificial UV lights along with the use of sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shaded areas.
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
- Personal or family history of skin cancer
- History of sun exposure
- History of sunburns, especially early in life
- History of indoor tanning
- Average tanning bed produces 2 to 10x more UVA radiation than the sun
- Tanning bed use before the age of 35 increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75%
- Large number of moles
- Light skin that burns, freckles, or reddens easily
- However, skin of all colors can get skin cancer!
Skin Cancer in People of Color
Even people with darker skin tones who rarely burn or always tan can get skin cancer. This includes people of African, Asian, Latino, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Native American descent. People of color often are diagnosed with skin cancer later, making the cancer harder to treat. No matter the skin tone, UV radiation can lead to skin damaging, premature aging and hyperpigmentation – protecting your skin is important!
Melanoma in people of color often occurs in areas like the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can also arise beneath the nail, so it is important to check these areas for new pigmented lesions and tell your doctor if you have any new or changing spots or sores that won’t heal.
Limiting UV Exposure
Checking the UV Index is an important way to plan for sun protection. You can find the UV Index on your phone’s weather app or click Weather.gov.
Dermatologists recommend sun protection when the UV Index is a 3 or higher. As levels approach a UV Index of 6+, it is best to limit your time in the sun.
Below are other tips for sun safety:
- Find shade under a dense tree canopy, shade sail, or pavilion
- Carry a sun umbrella for personal shade
- Use a pop-up UV tents when at the beach or park
- Whenever possible, stay out of the sun from 10 AM – 4 PM when UV radiation is the strongest
- Broad spectrum UVA and UVB, SPF 30 or higher
- Reapplication is necessary every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off
- Most people do not put on enough sunscreen–aim for one ounce, which is about a palmful
Wear Protective Clothing
- Long sleeves/pants with a dense weave or built in UPF
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Closed-toe shoes and socks that cover the ankle
- Choose sunglasses with a UV protective coating
- Wearing sunglasses helps protect the delicate skin around our eyes
- UV rays can also increase risk of cataracts & macular degeneration–it makes sense to protect your eyes!
Today’s UV Forecast for Greenville, NC
ABCDEs of Melanoma
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but when detected early, it is highly treatable. It’s important to know your skin by performing a self-exam of your skin each month. Ask a partner or a friend to look at your back and scalp! The guide below can help you recognize any warning signs that you should show your health care provider! The ABCDEs of Melanoma are a guide for evaluating moles for possible signs of melanoma:
- Asymmetry: Moles that have an asymmetrical appearance
- Border: A mole with a blurry and/or jagged edge
- Color: A mole that has more than one color
- Diameter: Moles with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser (6 mm or ¼ inch)
- Evolution: A mole that has changed in size, shape or color
Link for how to perform a Self Skin Exam:
American Academy of Dermatology:
Skin Cancer Prevention
Sunscreen Dispensers Locations: