No matter your skin tone, sun exposure puts you at risk of developing skin cancer.
The scorching sun we enjoy so much on our island is also one of the main risk factors for developing skin cancer, one of the most common cancers among the population.
Why is the sun harmful to the skin?
The ultraviolet rays that are present in sunlight are what cause skin damage. These result in premature wrinkles and blemishes and often produce lesions that can become cancerous.
Frequent exposure to the sun—even if you don’t get sunburned—can lead to skin cancer. Although tanning looks attractive, that beautiful glow is actually a sign of skin damage.
Know the risk factors
Skin cancer is often associated with light skin tones, blonde or red hair, and light eyes. However, anyone—no matter how light or dark the tone of their skin—can develop it.
Other factors that increase this risk are the following:
- Being more prone to sunburns
- Having many moles and freckles
- Working or playing under the sun
- Have had skin cancer or family members who have had it
- Getting a tan in the sun or with a tanning lamp
- Being over 50 years old
In which parts of the body is it most common?
Most skin cancers occur on parts of the body that are continuously exposed to the sun. For example: head, neck, face, ears, hands and arms, shoulders, back, chest, and the back and lower parts of the legs.
However, it is important to check yourself from head to toe, including areas such as the soles of your feet and toenails, groin, buttocks, and even inside your mouth.
If you see anything suspicious, such as a mole that has changed in appearance, a lesion that does not heal, or an area that feels scaly and rough, consult your physician or dermatologist. It is important to remember that like many other conditions, treatment is more likely to be successful when it is detected early and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.
The key to preventing skin cancer is protection. For instance:
- Wear clothing that protects from the sun, sunglasses and seek shade for as long as possible.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck, shoulders, and ears.
- Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Remember that even when it’s cloudy, you can still get sunburns by radiation.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher even if you are not at the beach. Gardening, playing outdoors, and even just driving a car can expose you to solar radiation.
At this point, many may think that being outdoors is a risk to be avoided. Truth is, spending time outdoors has positive effects on our physical and mental health and is associated with lower stress levels. The key is protecting yourself and finding the best time to enjoy our weather.