According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer accounts for the largest number of cancer diagnoses in the United States. Each year, nearly five million Americans are treated for skin cancer, with most cases being nonmelanoma skin cancer, typically diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
But skin cancer is not the only condition that can affect the skin. From rosacea to eczema to acne to psoriasis, the skin can be affected by numerous conditions, many of which can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Keeping skin healthy requires effort, and there are many things men and women can do to protect their skin and reduce their risk for various conditions.
Schedule routine visits to a dermatologist. Dermatologists can treat and help prevent disorders of the skin, and men and women should make annual visits to their dermatologist to ensure their skin is healthy. Dermatologists can diagnose if a mark or a blemish is something benign or serious and provide information on various courses of treatment. As with any specialist, dermatologists may be well versed on new and innovative care. If anything on your skin seems suspect, visit a dermatologist right away.
Protect yourself from the sun. The single best thing you can do for your skin is to protect it from the sun. Not only can a lifetime of sun exposure cause wrinkles and age spots, it can lead to cancer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply it every two hours or more often. Make sunscreen a part of your daily regimen, applying it as you would moisturizer or antiperspirant.
Quit the habit. The Mayo Clinic says smoking narrows tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This robs the skin of oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Smoking also can damage the collagen and elastin in the skin, which promotes elasticity.
Be gentle to the skin. Use mild cleansers and limit showers and baths to warm water. Moisturize dry skin if it is problematic. Pat skin dry after washing and do not tug or rub skin excessively.
Inspect skin regularly. Routinely check your skin for any changes and share any concerns with your doctor. Schedule annual skin checks as part of yearly physical examinations.
Taking these steps can help you maintain healthy skin and prevent ailments in the years to come.