Surfers are three times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than non-surfers. It’s a frightening statistic, but when you consider that surfers spend hours on the beach and in the surf, it makes perfect sense.
Zinc creates a physical barrier between your skin and the sun when you are surfing, thereby limiting your exposure to the sun’s damaging rays.
As a surfer, you need to be aware of the damage caused by the sun, as well as the signs of skin cancer and the things you can do to protect yourself. Aside from wearing Zinc Oxide, here are some tips to help you feel your skin looking great in and out of water.
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How Can I Protect My Skin While Surfing?
You need to protect your skin when surfing, as failure to do so could lead to the development of skin cancers.
Every time you hit the surf without proper protection, you’re placing yourself at risk, and if you do that day after day, you may live to regret it.
To keep yourself safe, follow these simple steps:
1. Apply Lots of Sunblock
Look for a good quality sunscreen and apply it frequently. Using Zinc Oxide which creates a physical barrier is a good choice.
You should apply it 15 to 20 minutes before you surf and then every 1.5 to 2 hours thereafter.
2. Avoid Intense Sunlight
Avoid surfing when the sun is at its most intense.
Even a few minutes under those rays could harm your skin so it’s best to wait until the heat dies down.
3. Wear Protective Gear
A surfing hat will protect your head, neck, and face; a base layer will protect your body and arms.
It doesn’t matter how hot it is, you need that gear to block the sun’s harmful rays.
4. Drink Lots of Water and Stay Aware
To avoid dehydration, drink lots of water.
It won’t necessarily decrease your risk of skin cancer, but it’ll prevent heat stroke, which is just as deadly.
You should also be aware of any new moles and marks.
Pay attention to your own skin and look for anything that shouldn’t be there and wasn’t there before.
What is the Most Common Place to Get Skin Cancer?
The nose is one of the most common places to see skin cancer.
You can also get melanoma on your arms, back, chest, and your neck if you surf without adequate protection.
How to Spot Skin Cancer
You can use something known as the ABCDE rule to look for skin cancer:
- Asymmetry: Do parts of a mole, birthmark, or other mark appear asymmetrical? In other words, does one part not match the other?
- Border: Are the edges jagged or blurred?
- Color: Are there several different colors and shades, including brown and black?
- Diameter: Is the mark at least a quarter-inch in diameter?
- Evolving: Does the mark appear to be changing shape and growing over time?
Both squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are more common than melanoma and they are also easier to treat.
A squamous cell carcinoma may appear as rough and scaly patches of red that crust and bleed, as well as warty growths and open sores.
A basal cell carcinoma may look similar to a scar and could be itchy, shiny/translucent, or with open sores.
How Can You Tell if a Spot is Cancerous?
Being a surfer means you are at a much higher risk for skin cancer and if any suspicious moles form on areas that are typically exposed to sunlight, you should get them checked out.
The advice above may help you to detect melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, but they are not foolproof.
If you are worried about the growth of a mole or have any open wounds or wart-like growths, you should consult with a doctor.
So, Do Surfers Get Skin Cancer?
Surfers definitely get skin cancer. In fact, they are one of the groups most at risk.
Surfers spend a lot of time in the sun, and this increases their risk of developing skin cancer.
The main issue is that many surfers don’t wear sunscreen and the ones that do often apply a single coat in the morning and then nothing for the rest of the day.
Sunscreen won’t last all day and should be applied every couple of hours.
If you’re in the water, you may need to apply it even more often.
So, stock up on the best sunscreen products listed above and make sure you apply it repeatedly throughout the day.
What is the Best Sunscreen for Surfers?
For adequate sun protection every time you’re at the beach or in the surf, check out our page about sunscreen and sunblock.