Skin Cancer Protection for Dads

Father’s day is fast approaching and although Dad may love to golf or garden, all that time spent under the blazing sun isn’t great for his skin, especially if he’s one of the majority of older men who have a receding hairline.  Before buying another gadget for the grill this Father’s Day, consider investing in some skin cancer prevention items like a hat, UV-blocking sunglasses, UVA/UVB sunscreen or light weight clothing to protect the skin.

Women often use sun protection not only to protect against skin cancer but also to prevent premature aging.  But men frequently don’t use any protection against harmful rays which is concerning since men over 50 are more than twice as likely than women to die from melanoma, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.  And when surveyed, just 51 per cent of men in the United States reported using sunscreen in the past 12 months; 70 per cent did not know the warning signs of skin cancer.

According to a study conducted in the Netherlands, men’s skin is more likely to be damaged by UV rays; men have thicker skin with less underlying fat and their skin also contains more collagen and elastin that give it firmness and keeps it tight.  But these differences between men and women make women’s skin better at repairing the damaged cause by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun is linked with the majority of skin cancers but small lifestyle changes like wearing sunscreen, avoiding the sun during the most intense times of day (10am-4pm), covering up and performing monthly self-exams of the skin can make a big difference.   Use a handheld mirror (or a partner) to examine hard-to-see spots and see a doctor right away if you notice anything suspicious like itching or bleeding spots or new or changing lesions.  Although an estimated 1 in 5 American will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, skin cancer is highly treatable if detected early.

Wearing a daily SPF of 15 or higher and using a SPF 30 during prolonged exposure, re-applying every two hours or after swimming can help prevent burns and sun damage.  Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking close-fitting sunglasses can also protect the face, neck and eyes.  Light weight, light colored clothing can also help prevent sun damage while keeping you cool and comfortable on hot days, and as an added bonus, insects are less attracted to light colors.

To watch a video on how to perform a self-examination to detect skin cancer and to download a body mole map, follow this link to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.