May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month reminding you to get ready for the sun. Have you checked the expiration date of your sunscreen, do you need to change your old sunscreen clothes or an old hat? Have you taken a look at your skin yet? Have you recently had a full skin exam to screen for skin cancer?
It’s time to prepare sun protection items and strategies for this season. It’s also a smart time to schedule a fall skin exam with your dermatologist – yes, schedule it now for fall!
Warm, sunny weather awaits those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’ll be outdoors a lot from now until the cooler fall weather returns. May is the right time to get ready and designated Skin Cancer Awareness Month as a reminder. Months Ended by
Three important things to do for yourself during Skin Cancer Awareness Month
#1. Check Your Sunscreen
Do any of your sunscreens have expired?
This is important because the protective layer is damaged in the tube or bottle. This is especially true if any of the active ingredients are chemical UV filters, which means if they are NOT zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These chemical filters are actually very fragile and are known to fail quickly. Also, if your sunscreen has been stored in abusive conditions (a hot car or cold temperatures), it’s a good idea to replace it.
I only recommend zinc oxide sunscreen, and I recommend starting fresh with a new sunscreen each spring during Skin Cancer Awareness Month. – Dermatologist Cynthia Bailey
Do you have a product you love?
Or, are you frustrated with your sunscreen? The product keeps getting better – clear mineral sunscreen available. Treat yourself to a sunscreen you really enjoy using, such as a tinted product or a powdered SPF to reapply. I love wearing all mine Sheer Strength Sunscreen.
Make sure you have a water-resistant sunscreen.
You need this for swimming, gardening, and hot sweaty days. Water resistance is rated for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. You need an 80-minute sunscreen when swimming and sweating a lot in the sun.
Sunscreen isn’t just about sunscreen! Do you have a good sunscreen without sunscreen? – Dr. Bailey
You need sun protection clothes
Check your sun protection equipment such as clothing, hats, sunglasses, sun gloves, swimwear and more. We recommend covering your skin as your first strategy and applying sunscreen on exposed skin that is NOT covered. This is smart sun protection and will save you money in the long run.
Sunscreen hats and clothing provide longer-lasting protection than sunscreen and do not need to be reapplied every 2 hours when outdoors. But they still wear out. I learned this when I put Ring detection in the pocket a sunscreen I’ve worn a lot for several years and UV rays penetrate the fabric and the pigment particles up. Here’s how I use the UV Detecto ring to test the fabric myself:
Detecto ring in full sun over the equator at noon shaded by a casual t-shirt not rated UPF 50. Seeds are moderately colored.
The Detecto ring in full sun above the equator at noon is covered by a shirt rated UPF 50. The grain is virtually colorless.
See how less color particles are under the UPF 50 shirt. This was done in 2009 before I started wearing the Coolibar. With Coolibar, the color particles are even less.
Dermatologists recommend UPF 50 sun protection clothing
I recommend having:
- a good UPF 50 long sleeve shirt,
- vented shirt UPF 50,
- a UPF 50 neck protector (such as a scarf or scarf),
- UPF 50 sun protection gloves.
Make sure you also have lightweight UV-blocking pants to keep UV rays out of your feet (trust me, skin cancer on your shins is no fun) and a swimsuit. I even have UPF 50 swim trunks to swim in.
I order my sun protection clothing from Coolibar because of their unique UV blocking technology built into the fibers of the fabric. I get no ‘branch’ benefit from sharing that! I have tested their products for many years and trust their quality. Here I am hiking in the Sonoran desert full of Coolibar, my own UPF 50 bucket hats and my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50. Gandy?? Is not! But the sun is strong and my skin is completely safe.
In my experience, Coolibar’s UPF protection lasts the longest of all UPF clothing. The shirt I’m wearing in this photo is at least 2 years old and still offers good protection. Check online for a Coolibar coupon code or call your dermatologist’s office, they often have a Coolibar catalog with generous coupon codes inside.
You need a 50 . UPF sun hat
Is your sun hat easy to put on and comfortable? Is it tired, sloppy and in need of replacement?
Remember, a dermatologist-recommended sun hat must meet 3 criteria:
- 3-5 inch brim for adult face protection.
- The brim has a circumference of 360 degrees to protect your neck and ears. Ball caps are a dermatologist’s job guarantee – don’t let it be you.
- Full scalp coverage made of UPF 50 yarn.
I recommend buying a sun hat made of materials that have been tested and rated UPF 50. I love mine UPF 50 . bucket cap and keep prices low so you can say ‘yes’ to yourself.
Have you used the UPF 50 umbrella?
I love the portable shade it creates. It’s actually much cooler under the parasol, and trust me, you’ll make friends on a hot day sharing your shade.
#2. Do a skin self-exam now during Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Check your skin in the mirror after your next shower and look for any spots that might be worrisome for melanoma.
Use the ABCDE trick and find points with the following characteristics:
Look at melanoma images and compare the ABCDE criteria. The mole was growing and I found it on a man’s thigh while doing a test for another problem he wanted to solve. I didn’t know this was skin cancer! The melanoma was thin and he saved his life by letting me examine his skin.
A stands for ASSYMETRY: Noncancerous moles are usually round and oval in shape. The asymmetry of a mole is cause for concern.
B stands for BOARDER: Non-cancerous moles usually have well-defined internal organs. Infrequent or faint boarding kids with moles are cause for concern.
C stands for COLOR: Noncancerous moles are usually uniform in color. Multiple colors unevenly distributed in a mole is worrisome.
D stands for DIAMETER: Noncancerous moles are usually less than 6mm in diameter. This is the diameter of a pencil eraser. Larger moles are worrisome.
E stands for EVOLUTION: Noncancerous moles usually don’t change much. The change and evolution in the shape, size or color of moles is cause for concern. Becoming itchy, tender, painful, or even disappearing are worrisome changes.
If you find a mole that meets the ABCDE criteria, see a dermatologist for an examination. I recommend checking in on your children and sexual partners after they have finished bathing.
Share my free ABCDE Skin test infographic above on social media to help others remember to get their skin checked during Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
#3. Book your fall full body skin appointment now!
Yes, this is a great idea. In my 35 years of practicing dermatology, I consistently see more skin cancers in the fall. I think the summer UV accident leads to a malignant cell mutation that manifests as cancer early in the fall. The cancer is small and it is usually easily cured. Call now to get that appointment. Have you noticed how long it takes to see your dermatologist? Yes, call now for the fall. Trust me on this.
Dermatologist Dr. Bailey’s Sunscreen Products for Skin Cancer Awareness Month
I have a California dermatologist’s sunscreen. This is what I personally use and recommend to my patients. I have a bunch of my favorite zinc oxide mineral sunscreens, caps, UV Detecto Rings to monitor UV exposure. I also have a free infographic to help you know you’re protected, including how much sunscreen to apply! Share the infographic on social media to help others.
SunSavvy Around Town Sunscreen Set for daily sun protection
Ring Detecto is fun for everyone – test your UV exposure knowledge. Keep it on your key ring.
Absolute Strength Pure Physical Zinc Oxide Sunscreen is made from the best technology for reliable protection.
Share my free sun protection graphic on social media so everyone knows how much sunscreen to apply for ‘dermatologically approved sun protection’.