Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce pigment in the skin. It is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and its rate is increasing in the U.S. Florida has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the country, with Tampa being no exception. However, with some simple prevention tips, people living in the Sunshine State can reduce their risk of developing melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma develops in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment in the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most commonly found on the trunk (chest and back) in men and on the legs in women. Melanoma can also develop in other parts of the body, including the nails and the eyes.
Melanoma can occur in people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50. It is also more common in people with fair skin, light-colored eyes and hair, and a history of sunburn or excessive sun exposure.
Wear Protective Clothing
Wearing protective clothing is one of the most effective ways to prevent melanoma. This includes long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats. In addition, clothing from tightly woven fabrics and dark colors provides the best protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Another important way to protect your skin from the sun is to use sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it generously to all exposed areas of your skin. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you are swimming or sweating.
When spending time outdoors, seek shade whenever possible. This can be as simple as sitting under a tree or using an umbrella at the beach. It’s especially important to seek shade during peak sun hours, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Be Cautious Around Water
Water activities can be enjoyable during hot weather, but they can also increase your risk of sun damage. Water can reflect UV rays, so taking extra precautions when spending time in or near water is important. Wear water-resistant sunscreen and reapply it frequently, and wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck.
Don’t Forget Scalp and Ears
Your scalp and ears are often exposed to the sun but can be overlooked for sun protection. Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck, and ears, or use a sunscreen spray specifically designed for the scalp.
Consider a UV Protective Window Film
UV protective window films can help reduce exposure to UV rays inside your car or home. These films are designed to block up to 99% of UV rays and can be installed on windows in your car or home.
Avoid Tanning Beds
Tanning beds emit UV radiation, which can increase your risk of developing melanoma and other types of skin cancer. If you want to have a tan, consider using a self-tanner or spray tan instead.
Be Aware of Medication Side Effects
Some medications, such as antibiotics for acne, and certain birth control pills, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Be aware of the side effects of any medications you’re taking and take extra precautions if necessary.
Check Your Skin
Regular skin checks can help you catch melanoma early when it is most treatable. Check your skin once a month for any new or changing moles and see a dermatologist if you notice anything suspicious.
Take Extra Precautions During Peak Season
In Tampa, the peak sun season typically lasts from May to September. During this time, it’s especially important to take extra precautions when spending time outdoors. Wear protective clothing, use sunscreen properly, seek shade, and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun during peak hours.
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that is on the rise in Florida. However, by taking simple prevention steps, you can reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease. Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about skin cancer and treatment options. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple facilities in the Tampa Bay area in Tampa and Brandon, FL.