How well you care for and protect your skin today will determine its future health and appearance. Caring and protecting for your skin means being vigilant about risk factors for skin cancer. A risk factor is something that affects your chance of getting a disease such as skin cancer, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer
Here are 8 warning signs that you may be at risk for skin cancer.
- A lighter, natural skin color. Skin Types I and II are most susceptible to skin damage and skin cancer. This is because more melanin, or color, means more natural protection from the sun. However, people with darker skin can still get skin cancer.
- A family history of skin cancer or a personal history of skin cancer. About 10% of people with Melanoma have a family member with the disease.
- Exposure to the sun through daily life and work. UV light is thought to be the biggest risk factor for most skin cancers. Sunlight is the main source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can damage the genes in your skin cells.
- A history of sunburns. A person's risk for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, doubles if they have had five or more sunburns.
- A history of indoor tanning. Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
- Male gender. In the US, men have a higher rate of melanoma than women.
- Blue or green eyes and blond or red hair. Red haired people have the highest risk of melanoma.
- A large number of moles. A person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
Having a risk factor is not a guarantee that you will develop skin cancer. And many people will develop skin cancer without any risk factors. However, it is important that you tell your dermatologist if you have one or more of skin cancer risk factors. Your best defense in the fight against skin cancer is prevention and protection. Prevent with annual skin exams and protect with SPF 30 or greater sunscreen on a daily basis.