Utah has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest melanoma rate in the United States — almost double the national average. According to the Utah Department of Health, the rate continues to rise, doubling in the past 17 years, from 20 to 42 cases for every 100,000 people.
So, what can people do to protect themselves from skin cancer? Dr. Jared Heaton, DO, a board-certified dermatologist and a member of the American Society of Mohs Surgeons from Rocky Mountain Dermatology offers the following three tips:
- Wear sunscreen and UPF clothing. Most parents will remember to apply sunscreen on their children before swimming or a day at the beach, but reapplication often lacks. UPF (ultraviolet protective factor) clothing is a fantastic, all-day way to protect you and your children’s skin. Still, be diligent about reapplication on the face. Dr. Heaton recommends SPF 30 to 50 and prefers physical blocking sunscreens that contain active mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin.
- Monitor your own skin. Everyone should check their own skin and their children’s skin. Look for moles that change in size, shape, or color and have them checked by a dermatologist.
- Be aware of your family history. A family history of melanoma significantly increases your risk of melanoma. If a have a first-degree relative who has had skin cancer, you should be checked once a year beginning around the age of puberty, otherwise, you can wait until you are in your 20s for regular skin cancer screenings.