Winter Skin Protection

Summer isn't the only time of year to worry about protecting your skin from the sun. In fact, a person can be exposed to twice the amount of harmful UV rays in the winter. Sun reflecting off the snow can greatly increase your risk of a sunburn, and UV rays can go right through cloudy skies.

Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall says one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In the last 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Lewis-Hall says it's absolutely critical to protect children from sun damage, because if you protect skin for the first 18 years of life, you can possibly reduce the risk of developing a number of skin cancers by nearly 80%.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun's harmful rays is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 30 SPF or higher at least 30 minutes before you go outside. Make sure to apply it everywhere, including the four most-commonly missed spots:

  • Underside of the neck
  • Eyes
  • Lips
  • Scalp, including the part-line and behind the ears

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, as well as after you've worked up a sweat. You can also protect yourself by wearing protective clothing, like a hat or sunglasses.

When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is best, so make sure you see your doctor at least once a year for a head-to-toe skin exam. In addition to this, you should be checking your body between visits for abnormal skin growths. For any hard-to-see places like the top of your head, have a friend or family member help.

Skin Cancer Warning Signs

  • Skin growths with two halves that don't match
  • A border that's uneven, scalloped or notched
  • Having a variety of colors
  • Size larger than a pencil eraser
  • Changes in size, shape, color, elevation
  • Bleeding, itching, crusting

If you have any abnormal skin growths that meet the above criteria, it could be a sign of a melanoma -- the most deadly form of skin cancer. A more common form of skin cancer which accounts for 90% of all skin cancer cases in the United States is basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs on your face or neck as a pearl or waxy bump, or as a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion. Basal cell carcinoma is more easily treated than melanoma.

For more information on the different types of skin cancer and how to protect your skin year-round, visit www.gethealthystayhealthy.com.

Sponsored by Pfizer.

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