Bad Habits That Lead to Skin Cancer, Says Doctor

·3 min read

New cases of skin cancer in 2022 number in the millions. Skin cancer is the number 1 type of cancer in the US. There are many different types of skin cancer. The most common are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, then melanoma. In 2022 it is expected that about 7,650 people are expected to die of melanoma. About 2,000 people in the US die each year from basal and squamous cell skin cancers.

These types of skin cancer are usually curable if caught early. However, they can be deadly if left untreated.

Bad habits increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Spending Time in the Sun Without Sunscreen

a woman's sun burned back
a woman's sun burned back

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. UV radiation is the main cause of skin cancer.

2

Using Tanning Beds or Sunlamps

Woman Light Therapy
Woman Light Therapy

Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous because it exposes you to high levels of UV radiation. Just one indoor tanning session can increase your risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent.

3

Not Wearing Enough Clothing to Protect Your Skin From the Sun's Rays

Hiker young woman, wearing flowered shirt, taking a selfie photograph outdoors
Hiker young woman, wearing flowered shirt, taking a selfie photograph outdoors

Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, neck, and ears.

4

Being Careless About Using Sunscreen

woman smears face sunscreen at the beach for protection
woman smears face sunscreen at the beach for protection

Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen is advisable, on with an SPF of 30 or higher. Every 2 hours put a liberal amount of sunscreen on, more often if you're sweating or swimming.

5

Being in the Sun Between the Peak Hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

woman applying sunscreen lotion standing outdoors at the urban location during the sunny weather
woman applying sunscreen lotion standing outdoors at the urban location during the sunny weather

The sun's rays are strongest during these hours, so it's best to stay in the shade during this time.

6

Getting Sunburned

woman customer choosing sunscreen lotion at the pharmacy store
woman customer choosing sunscreen lotion at the pharmacy store

A bad sunburn can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Childhood sunburns are particularly dangerous because they can lead to melanoma later in life.

7

Not Checking Your Skin Regularly

Girl with birthmarks on the neck
Girl with birthmarks on the neck

If you don't check your skin regularly, you're more likely to miss early signs of skin cancer. Be sure to perform a self-exam at least once a month. If you have any moles or other changes in your skin, make an appointment to see a dermatologist right away.

8

Continuing to Smoke

no smoking sign
no smoking sign

Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of skin cancer since it weakens your immune system and damages the DNA in your skin cells. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your skin — and your health.

9

Having a Family History of Skin Cancer

happy family spending time together
happy family spending time together

If you have a parent or sibling who's had skin cancer, you're at an increased risk for the disease. This is not a bad habit! It just the way it is. This is why it's so important to perform regular self-exams and see a dermatologist regularly for screenings.

10

Being Exposed to Certain Chemicals

chemical plant near water
chemical plant near water

Some chemicals, such as arsenic and coal tar, can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

These bad habits put you at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Be sure to wear sunscreen, stay out of the sun during peak hours, and check your skin regularly for changes. If you have a family history of skin cancer, be sure to see a dermatologist regularly for screenings. And if you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your skin — and your health! And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Gethin Williams MD Ph.D. is the Medical Director of Imaging&Interventional Specialists