Risk taking is deep-rooted in the blueprint of man. From Henry Ford to Warren Buffett, risk takers throughout history have stepped in the face of danger or risked big, to win big. The gender gap when it comes to willingness to live on the edge cannot be denied. According to a 2010 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, American men are more likely to partake in a variety of hazardous behaviors, among them – heavy drinking and smoking, remaining overweight, and sidestepping regular preventive dentist and physician visits.
But when it comes to maintaining our health (especially of the skin) – throwing caution to the wind is never a move that’s advised. One out of every five Americans will experience skin cancer at some point in their lifetime, with men being two times more likely to develop the disease. According to Health Grades, in addition to being less likely to wear SPF and stay in the shade, men also aren’t as aware of skin changes, or as vigilant about skin screenings. Detecting and eradicating melanoma early is imperative; but since many men avoid the doctor at all costs – they suffer later from a delayed diagnosis. Their rates of death due to skin cancer are double that of women’s.
For eons – well, at least since the 1920s – the beauty industry has been big business, convincing hordes of women that their grooming regimen was simply subpar. Taught from a young age to wear makeup (that often has built-in SPF), and to worry about wrinkles and sun damage, women place great importance on maintaining a youthful appearance and having smooth skin. Many women apply foundation or lotion in the morning, routinely – not realizing that their sun care protection is taken care of. It’s as natural as say, brushing their teeth.
Based on an online survey, 18% of men wear sunscreen on their face on a sunny day, versus the 43% of women who claim to. Men also tend to have their shirts off more, exposing them to additional Ultraviolet (UV) rays. Balding heads and exposed ears – two areas susceptible to harsh rays, tend to affect men more. Some studies have found that men view sunscreen as too “feminine”. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), it’s very important that physicians and nurses address the importance of minimizing sun exposure to reduce patient’s risk of developing skin cancer.
What it all boils down to, is that men just aren’t incorporating sun protection into their lives. Integrating a few simple changes into your lifestyle can save your skin – literally. So, what’s a guy to do?
For starters, switch up your schedule. UV rays are harshest between 1pm and 3pm. If you’re mowing the lawn, walking the dog, or hitting the beach with your buddies – try to minimize your exposure during these peak hours. You don’t have to become a hermit to practice safety from the sun, just be sure to dress for the occasion. It’s always great to have UV-blocking sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, long pants, and a UPF shirt in your sun-safe wardrobe arsenal.
Check yourself out, or have a partner do it. Being aware of all moles and spots on your skin – and reporting any mysterious changes to your dermatologist promptly, can prevent skin cancer from worsening. It is curable in the very early stages. Slather on the SPF (preferably one of 30 SPF or higher) in the morning; it only takes a minute and makes a world of difference.
Finally, schedule your regular skin checks with your dermatologist. The American Cancer Society® touts this as a wonderful preventive measure. Dermatology visits at Vanguard Skin Specialists include total body skin exams. We are happy to answer any questions you may have, as well as help you to keep your skin as healthy as possible. To schedule a check-up, call 719-355-1585.