Whether it’s summer or winter (or somewhere in between), your skin is at risk for sun damage every time you go outside- and knowing your risk level goes a long way towards knowing which preventative measures to take.
In fact, your risk level for skin cancer and melanoma might change depending on which state you live in. Melanoma rates vary by state, with the highest risk states generally concentrated in the northwest and Midwest areas of the United States. However, you might be surprised by a few of the states.
For example, you might assume that traditionally sunny states like Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida have the highest risks of skin cancer. Actually, these states have some of the lowest risks of skin cancer and melanoma; Texas only has 13.2 diagnoses per 100,000 people, and Arizona and Nevada both have less than 16.
On the other hand, logic might suggest that the states with the lowest risks of skin cancer and melanoma would be states known for cloudy weather or harsh winters. Shockingly, Vermont is the state with the highest diagnosis rate of skin cancer- 32.6 diagnoses per 100,000 people. Washington is famous for being cloudy and rainy, yet it has a diagnosis rate of 25.2. Similarly, Minnesota has notoriously harsh winters, but its diagnosis rate is 26.2.
Regardless of where you live, there are measures you can take to protect your skin throughout the year. Avoid the sun during midday, when the UV rays are the strongest, and if you do have outdoor activities during that time, cover up with long-sleeved shirts and pants and use sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. Your family history of melanoma can also tell you if you’re at higher risk for melanoma. Finally, check yourself for unusual moles regular, and see a dermatologist if you notice moles that are large with irregular borders and/or discoloration.
Skin protection shouldn’t stop when the weather cools down or when you travel to a low-risk state. Practice smart skin protection for you and your family, and you can lower your risk of developing melanoma.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis Rates Across America – An infographic by the team at Advanced Dermatology