Better Homes & Gardens

WEAR SUNSCREEN EVEN ON CLOUDY DAYS

THE SAFEST TAN IS ONE THAT COMES FROM A BOTTLE. Up to 80 percent of UV rays penetrate clouds.

- JOSHUA ARBESMAN, M.D.

be careful how you use sticks and sprays

Sticks can be great for small areas, and sprays make it easier to cover hard-to-reach parts like your back. But you have to apply them properly, which a lot of people don’t do, says Orit Markowitz, M.D., former skin cancer director at Mount

Sinai Hospital and founder of OptiSkin, a dermatolog­ic treatment and research center in New York City.

When using a stick, go back and forth four times to ensure you apply enough.

For sprays, look for thick mineral formulas. Hold the nozzle close to your skin and spray until your skin is covered, then rub it in.

use the ABCDE rule for self-checks

Examining your own skin regularly (aim for monthly) will help catch skin cancer early. Look for these signs of suspicious moles, which should be examined by a dermatolog­ist.

ASYMMETRIC­AL

Does one part of the mole look different from the other?

BORDER

Are the edges irregular or jagged?

COLOR

Is it uneven? Are parts lighter or darker?

DIAMETER

Is the spot larger than the size of a pencil eraser?

EVOLVING

Has the mole or spot changed? E is perhaps the most important. Any spot that changes size, shape, color, or elevation, or that develops symptoms (bleeding, oozing, itching, or crusting) should be looked at by a dermatolog­ist ASAP.

Also remember that you can get skin cancer in places where the sun doesn’t shine— including your palms, bottoms of your feet, breasts, and buttocks— so check thoroughly.

sunscreens do expire

The FDA requires that all sunscreens be formulated to maintain their original strength for at least three years. If the bottle doesn’t have an expiration date, write the purchase date on it. Keep in mind that sunscreens degrade faster in the heat, so tuck sunscreen under your chair or into a cooler when you’re outside. And don’t store it in your car.

you can develop skin cancer no matter what your skin tone

Although skin cancer is more common in fair-skinned people, anyone can develop skin cancer, even people who aren’t prone to sunburn or who tan easily. So do your self-checks and get examined by a dermatolog­ist annually. Q

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