Just because you don’t bake in the sun for hours — or are young, or are brown — doesn’t mean your skin is as safe as it could be. Read on for ways that you might be getting more sun exposure than you think, and why daily sunscreen, indoors and out, and all year round, is a really good idea.
“I Never Go Out In The Sun”
If you use tanning beds you’re still at risk.
“I Never Tan”
UVA penetrates windows and windshields, and sun damage is cumulative (meaning the little you get while crossing the street counts). Remember the famous photo from the New England Journal of Medicine of a 69-year-old man with marked photo damage on the left side of his face from over twenty years of driving his delivery truck? As the Huffington Post reported, “Driving has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer due to sun exposure through the windows, which do not filter UVA rays. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology concluded more cases involved the left arm and left side of the face, according to the CBC.”
“I’m a Guy…I Don’t Need Sunscreen”
More men get skin cancer than women.
“I’m Too Young To Worry About Skin Cancer”
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the 25-29 age group, and the second most common form of cancer among people aged 15-29.
“I Only Spend Time Outdoors When The Sun Is Already Setting…Or In The Winter!”
Glare off of the water right before the sun goes down, and bouncing off of snow, can double your exposure.
“I’m Too Dark To Get Skin Cancer…It’s A White Person’s Problem”
Reggae legend Bob Marley died of melanoma. Skin cancer affects all races and all skin tones.
“My Moles Are Fine…They’re Small And Don’t Change” or “That’s Just a Mark, It’s Harmless”
That’s only as far as you know. You may not be seeing all the moles on your body or may not recognize some marks as warning signs. And some changes are too microscopic to notice with the naked eye (why mole mapping and skin cancer screening are so important).
As you can see, unless you are an actual mole (the mammal) and live underground, or a mole rat which some studies show are immune to cancer (and if you’re either, congratulations on the reading!) there’s almost nothing that makes you immune to skin cancer. Practice sun avoidance and use sun protection daily.
- Stay out of the sun.
- Apply sunscreen daily, all year round, indoors or out.
- Don’t be shy about application, especially when outdoors: slather it on and reapply every 1-2 hours.
- When outdoors, wear hats, long sleeves and cover-ups.
- Get an annual skin cancer screening and mole mapping.