May the force of sunscreen be with your skin

Unless you’re covered in futuristic space armor from head to toe, you should wear sunscreen to protect your skin.

That’s because excessive sun exposure can increase your risk of developing the most common type of cancer in the U.S. — skin cancer.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month. According to the CDC, one in five American Earthlings will develop skin cancer due to sun exposure.

Harbin Clinic wants to ensure you have the information you need to protect your skin from even the brightest stars in the galaxy. Here are some health hacks to make sure you maintain that healthy glow.

Limit Yourself

If you find it’s been a long time ago since you were inside, you should go to a galaxy far, far away and seek some shade. One of the best ways to protect your skin is to avoid prolonged sun exposure. However, if you are going to be out in the sun, aim for early morning and late afternoon/evening hours. Peak hours for harmful rays are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Take breaks from the sun!

Always Wear Sunscreen

That means during both the warmer and cooler months (or whether you’re on a desert planet or ice planet).

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, regular use of a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher reduces your risk of melanoma by 50 percent.

For outdoor sun fun, make sure to apply at least two tablespoons of sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher to your body any time you go outside. Reapply every two hours.

It’s also a good idea to incorporate light, long-sleeved clothing and a broad-brimmed hat into your summer wardrobe, as well as UV blocking sunglasses.

Say No to Tanning Beds

The fastest way to the “dark” side is through the tanning bed.

More than 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. are linked to indoor tanning every year.  Contrary to popular belief, getting a base tan in anticipation of a lot of sun exposure will not prevent your skin from getting sunburned; any type of suntan will result in damage to the skin. Not only can tanning increase your skin cancer risk, it can also lead to wrinkles, leathery skin and age spots.

Learn Your ABC’s

… and we don’t mean in robot language.

Although not all moles are bad, most melanomas, a type of dangerous skin cancer, arise out of abnormal moles. Make sure you evaluate your moles using the ‘ABCD’ rule:

     A – Asymmetry. Does one side of the mole look like the other?
     B – Border Irregularity. Do the edges of the mole look jagged or uneven?
     C – Color. Is the mole the same color throughout or are there some differences?
     D – Diameter. Anything larger than a pencil eraser should be checked by a physician.

Get Your Yearly Skin Check

Every year, it’s important to see your Dermatologist for a skin check. This can help identify future problems before they start as well as catch melanoma and other types of cancer in the early stages. For more information, or to make an appointment, visit harbinclinic.com/dermatology.