By: Dr. Chris G. Adigun, MD, FAAD
Educating people about skin cancer and skin cancer prevention is something I’m extremely passionate about. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. This is a frightening statistic, but the good news is that 99 percent of all cases are curable if they are diagnosed and treated early enough. This is where education and screening can really make a difference.
Increasing public awareness of these life-altering statistics and providing education about skin cancer prevention through lifestyle changes can positively impact people’s skin health and overall well-being. Partnering with organizations like the Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology’s SPOT me® Skin Cancer Screenings to offer free skin checks is one way for me to make a positive impact on public health.
Another way I try to make a difference in lowering future statistics is by encouraging people to instill sun safety habits in their children. Sun damage in childhood is one of the most significant causes of skin cancer in adults. Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
Here are some sun safety tips I use with my own children:
- Keep the sunscreen right next to the toothpaste. Make it part of their daily routine!
- Utilize a mineral powder sunscreen for easy-to-use application
- Wear shirts, hats, and other clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) 50+ label for built-in sun protection during outside activities
- Incorporate fun UPF 50+ umbrellas or tents during sporting events
As a busy dermatologist and working mother of four young children, I realize how challenging it can be to make sure your children are protected, especially when you are not with them. This is why I feel so strongly about developing sun safety behaviors in children. A sunburn does not have to be a rite of childhood! Building healthy habits early when children are more receptive can lead to increased sun protection into adulthood.