New research shows that more young people are getting skin cancer than ever before, and health authorities are showing growing concern. Many of us have had a sunburn or two in our lives. It might not seem as if it’s an issue; a little pain after a day filled with fun, but new studies show that even as few as five to six sunburns can more than double the risk of developing skin cancer.
Dr. John Blomstedt, dermatologist, says that most of the risk actually comes from when we’re kids because the bulk of sun exposure actually happens before people are from 18 to 20.
It turns out that the skin doesn’t totally heal after it’s been burned. Part of the energy from the sun that we experience here on Earth is radiation. It shows up in the form of ultraviolet light that is invisible to us. When these rays penetrate the skin, they damage the cells; and that damage has a cumulative effect.
Dr. Blomstedt says that he has removed moles that have begun to change in kids that are not even 18 yet. He also says that melanoma cases are showing up in people that are just in their twenties, and that’s much younger than before. Blomstedt also says that tanning beds are even worse than the sun. Just 15 minutes in a tanning bed has the same effect of tanning in the sun for an hour.
Those the most at risk are people that have light colored eyes and fair skin, with the most susceptible being those who try to tan and only burn. However, having darker complexions doesn’t make a person safe, because they can get skin cancer too.
The worst hours to be in the sun are between 2 and 4 p.m. This is when most people experience excessive amounts of sun exposure.
Sunscreen isn’t even the best barrier. In fact, the best protection is long sleeved shirts and pants. Save the sunscreen for parts of the body that are exposed, and make sure you have SPF 30 or higher, for best results. Always make sure to reapply sunscreen after spending time in the water or sweating, as this will cause it to wear off.
Don’t forget the sunglasses, either, as they eyes can get skin cancer, too. Sunglasses that contain UVA and UVB lenses offer the best protection from the radiation of the sun.
Most people experience skin cancer as a black mole with irregular borders, and the halves don’t look the same. It can grow and change, but there are also melanomas that aren’t dark; they look like normal skin. If you have any suspicious looking moles, it’s a smart idea to have your health care provider take a look at them.