By: Richard Bezozo, M.D.
Today, approximately 100,000 women of all ages will participate in health and fitness events at a variety of locations across the country, to celebrate National Women’s Health & Fitness Day. In full support of the goal of National Women’s Health & Fitness Day – to encourage women to take control of their health – I’d like to emphasize the importance of skin health and provide women with ways in which they can be proactive in protecting your skin from harmful diseases.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million basal and squamous cell skin cancer cases diagnosed and more than 75,000 people who develop melanoma each year. Melanoma skin cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women from ages 25-30, and with these numbers on the rise, it is vital to continue educating yourself on healthy skin practices to minimize your risk of developing this preventable disease. In honor of National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, below are a few tips to keep your skin healthy:
- Wear Sunscreen. It is very important to protect your skin from UV rays year-round, not just during the summer months. Even as your layers of clothing increase after the summer, your face, head and neck are still exposed, and these areas are where the majority of skin cancers occur. Be sure to protect your face, scalp, neck and ears with moisturizer that contains SPF, and apply a lip balm that has an SPF of 15 or higher. Wear dark colors and hats with wide brims for additional protection.
- Avoid Tanning Beds. Indoor UV tanners are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than individuals who do not tan inside. If you want that glowing tan, try self-tanners, or a spray tan.
- Wash Your Face. You should wash your face at least twice a day to rid your skin of dirt, oils, and dead skin cells to help prevent acne and to keep your face looking fresh.
- Exfoliate. About once a week, you should exfoliate your body with and an oil-based scrub. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and uncovers fresh new ones, which will absorb more moisture and allow your skin to look fresh and stay healthy longer.
- Don’t Smoke. Smoking impairs your circulation, causing the skin’s color to look greyer, and it thickens the skin’s texture, to look more like leather. Smoking also accelerates the aging process.
- Be Proactive. In between visits with your physician, monitor your skin for any abnormalities, and report any changes with your skin and moles to your physician. For step-by-step instructions on how to perform a head-to-toe self-skin exam, click here.
- Healthy Lifestyle. The easiest way to keep your skin healthy is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Make a conscious effort to eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, manage your stress to reduce skin sensitivity and reduce breakouts, try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night, and drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
Regular visits to your dermatologist, self-checks, and enrolling in an early detection surveillance program to monitor existing and new moles and lesions are essential in keeping you and your skin healthy all year long. Be proactive in your skin health, and celebrate National Women’s Health & Fitness Day today by further educating yourself on how to protect your skin. For more information on the symptoms of melanoma, read, The ABCDEs of Melanoma: Your Skin Cancer Detection Guide.
Richard Bezozo, M.D., is the president of MoleSafe .