It is largely agreed that, generally speaking, women tend to take better care of their overall health than do men, and skin health is no exception. But evidence suggests that when it comes to taking care of their skin, many men may simply be uninformed of the dangers of prolonged UV exposure, as well as the warning signs of melanoma and other skin cancers.
Here’s what experts know about the knowledge gap between women and men when it comes to skin health and what men can do to stay informed and keep their skin healthy and protected.
The Skin Cancer Knowledge Gap
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 44 percent of American men report never having used sunscreen, compared to 27 percent of women, and the largest number of fatalities from melanoma occur in white men over the age of 55 [1, 2]. The connection between sunscreen use and skin cancer risk is evident in these numbers, but the truth is most men simply never see these statistics.
Research from Boston University School of Medicine found that advertisements for sunscreen are not marketed to men. Researchers examined 579 summer issues of 24 different magazine publications from 1997 to 2002 and found that a whopping 77 percent of all sunscreen ads ran in women’s magazines only. Men’s magazines, on the other hand, ran a sunscreen ad in less than one out of every six issues .
The bottom line is that men are putting their skin at risk by not using sunscreening, and this risk may be due in large part to the lack of information about sunscreen targeted to them. Even the marketing campaigns that are targeted toward women typically do not contain information about how to prevent or detect skin cancer.
How to Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk
Being well-informed about your risk factors for developing melanoma and other types of skin cancer is an excellent place to start when it comes to lowering your risk. Even if you’ve never used sunscreen or practiced safe sun exposure habits in the past, it’s never too late to start. Here are a few skin health basics to help minimize your risk:
• Use sunscreen. Everyone, women and men alike, should use a daily sunscreen. Not only do the sun’s UV rays lead to signs of facial aging, but they can also put you at risk for skin cancer. If you’ve already noticed some signs of photodamage on your skin, use an anti-glycation formula such as AminoGenesis S.U.N. Control, which helps to restore a healthier-looking complexion while also providing SPF 30 protection.
• Wear sun protective clothing. Many men spend long periods of time working outside or enjoying outdoor sports and hobbies, yet don’t wear sun protective clothing. In addition to using sunscreen, bring an extra t-shirt, a hat, and sunglasses to help keep your skin and eyes safe.
• Avoid tanning beds and peak UV hours. Whether they’re coming from the sun or indoor tanning beds, no source of UV rays are safe for your skin. If you are going to be spending lots of time outdoors, try to avoid the peak hours between 10am and 2pm, when the sun’s rays are the.
• Know the ABCDEs of melanoma. Part of keeping your skin healthy is understanding the warning signs to look for. The American Academy of Dermatology calls these the “ABCDEs” of melanoma: asymmetry, irregular borders, varied color, large diameter, and evolution . Perform a self-exam of your moles on a regular basis, and be sure to consult your dermatologist if you notice anything that looks suspicious.
While melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, it is also highly preventable and treatable if caught early. Practice good sun protection habits every day, rain or shine, perform regular skin self-exams, and schedule an annual check-up with your dermatologist to help keep your skin healthy and revitalized.