1 in 5 people will get skin cancer in their lifetime, and the odds are even higher if you are fair-skinned. This is because paler skin tones contain less melanin, which can help guard against dangerous UV rays. If not caught in time, skin cancer can spread from skin cells to the lymph nodes and other organs, greatly increasing its danger. Luckily, even if you have fair skin there are specific things you can do to prevent skin cancer. Here are six tips:
Have Suspicious Moles Removed
Skin cancer often starts off as a suspicious-looking mole. If you have mole removal done by a dermatologist right away, any precancerous cells that are present will be removed before they have a chance to develop into cancer. Suspicious moles are often irregular in shape, grow rapidly, or experience unexplained bleeding. When in doubt, it's best to have a mole examined by a doctor, and removed if they agree it is suspicious.
In some cases, your doctor may want to biopsy the mole either before or after removing it. Mole removal is typically painless because your skin will be numbed. Your doctor will also give you after-care instructions to help prevent scarring.
Get Your Skin Scanned Once a Year
In addition to getting suspicious moles removed, it's important for fair-skinned people to be especially proactive by scheduling an annual skin check. Your dermatologist will scan your skin looking for unusual or suspicious moles or growths, which may be precancerous. Your doctor can more easily and efficiently identify suspicious moles, and may notice moles you have grown used to seeing or that you can't easily see yourself because of their location. By doing this annually you will help ensure that anything suspicious is caught and removed quickly.
Opt for Self Tanner
As a fair-skinned person, you should never sunbathe or go to tanning beds. Your skin is simply too delicate and easily harmed by the sun. Avoiding tanning will not only help prevent skin cancer, but will also prevent premature aging and keep you looking younger, longer. This doesn't mean you can't get a nice glow and a little additional color to your skin, however. Instead of sunbathing or visiting the tanning salon, simply buy self tanning lotion at any drugstore.
For a deeper tan and a more even glow, you may want to pay for a custom-blended spray tan that is applied to your skin by an attendant. Be sure to choose a spray tan location that is experienced with fair-skinned clients, to ensure a natural-looking glow.
Wear Sunblock Every Day, Year-round
While people with darker skin tones may be able to get away with only applying sunblock when they're at the beach, you need to protect your skin with sunblock year-round. Damaging UV rays come through on even overcast winter days. Sun damage is cumulative, which means even the time you spend walking from your car to the store or sitting in traffic with the sun's rays coming in through your car windows can lead up to serious premature aging and possible skin cancer.
Buy Protective Clothing
A wide-brimmed hat and UV protection sunglasses are necessities for the fair-skinned. In addition, you may want to invest in a few outfits' worth of sun protection clothing, especially during times when you're going to spend a lot of time outdoors, like on vacation. Sun protection clothing is designed to protect and cover your skin while being lightweight and breathable in hot weather. It often incorporates built-in SPF for further protection.
By following these six tips, you can help protect your fair skin and greatly reduce the odds of getting skin cancer.