Check and Protect the Skin You’re In  

three human figures of different shades under the sun

As the days get warmer, many of us are excited to get outdoors to enjoy some time in the sun. As you head to your next outing, it’s also important to remember to practice skin safety.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined. However, when found and treated early, skin cancer can almost always be cured.

Four Tips to Protect Your Skin

May is recognized as Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a good time to start thinking of ways to protect your skin this summer, and year-round. 

1. Seek the shade. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when UV light is strongest. If you’re planning to mow the lawn or heading out for a walk, consider doing so before or after these hours.

2. Cover up. When possible, wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, or a long skirt to cover the most skin. And don’t forget to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. 

The U-M vision plan covers sun tinting of plastic lenses, gradient tints, and glass gray #3 prescription sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are also an eligible medical expense in U-M’s health care flexible spending account.

3. Use sunscreen. Choose a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

If you are enrolled in U-M’s health care flexible spending account, over-the-counter sunscreen products with SPF 15 or higher are considered eligible medical expenses

4. Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Tanning beds that give out UVA and/or UVB rays have been linked with an increased risk of melanoma. 

Four Tips for Checking Your Skin

When found and treated early, skin cancer can almost always be cured. That’s why it’s important to check your skin regularly.

1. Do a skin check. Examine your skin using full-length and hand-held mirrors. Skin cancer can develop even in areas not normally exposed to the sun. Be sure to check the bottoms of your hands and feet, armpits and even personal areas for abnormalities.

This handy skin exam infographic from MHealthy is an at-a-glance reminder of key areas to check. 

2. Check regularly. Monthly self-exams are recommended. When found and treated early, skin cancer can usually be cured. Be diligent and if you see or feel any  irregularities on your skin, have it checked immediately. 

Recommended skin cancer screenings are also covered under all U-M health plans (copays apply).

3. Know your skin. Be aware of your normal pattern of moles, freckles, blemishes, and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any changes next time.

4. Know your ABCDEs. Skin cancers can show up in many shapes and sizes. The American Cancer Society’s website includes possible signs, including an easy to remember ABCDE rule that helps you identify if your mole or mark might be skin cancer. If you have concerns about your skin, talk to your doctor.  

Find more skin cancer tips and resources on the MHealthy website.

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