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4 Ways Seniors Can Keep Skin Safe

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and that makes this a great time to remember to take care of yourself and keep your skin safe. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.” 

Most types of skin cancer are directly related to unsafe exposure to the sun, but it's impossible to entirely avoid the sun; furthermore, the vitamin D exposure is important to overall health. Remember these four ways you can keep skin safe.

1. Slather on the Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the most obvious tips for staying safe in the sun — and the one most often neglected. Some common reasons people don't wear sunscreen are:

  • It’s a gloomy day.
  • It’s cold outside.
  • You have long sleeves and pants on.
  • You have darker skin already.
  • You already put some on (much) earlier in the day.

Don’t fall into those traps. Every time you’re exposed to the sun — whether it’s hidden by haze or you think you’re already protected by extra clothes — applying sunscreen is a good idea. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection, and if you’ve been in water, you're sweating a lot or many hours have passed, it’s time to reapply.

2. Wear Extra Clothes

If you’re going to spend a lot of time outside, consider pants and long-sleeve shirts. Worried about overheating? Try breathable fabrics like lightweight linens. The breeze comes through these clothes, keeping you cool while your skin enjoys the extra protection.

3. Check Yourself Frequently

Have a spot on your skin that has shown up unexpectedly? Whether it’s a bump, a red spot or a rash, it’s a good idea to monitor it carefully and have it checked out if it lasts more than a few days. That spot could be the result of sun exposure. 

Have new moles or moles that have grown and changed? It’s time for a trip to a dermatologist. While these small spots may not seem like they could cause that much damage, it’s important for a trained professional to check them out as soon as possible and remove or treat them as necessary. Skin cancer is a highly treatable form of cancer, but early detection is key.

4. Limit Sun Exposure to Shorter Times

While getting out in the sun is good for your vitamin D levels, you get as many benefits from frequent short trips outside as you do from one long period of exposure. Set a watch or timer for 15 to 20 minutes. This gives you long enough to stroll the grounds for a bit and enjoy the sun and breeze without getting too much exposure or overheating. Then you can go back out again in a few hours.

You only get one set of skin in this lifetime, and it’s important to take every step possible to protect it. This May during Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, start or continue taking these steps to keep your skin — and yourself — healthy.