The Skinny About Skin Cancer Among Seniors in Florida

Author: Debbie Humphrey

We are certainly blessed to live on the Best Coast of the Sunshine State, but with the blessing of a warm sunny climate comes serious concerns about sun exposure and skin cancer.

Florida residents are accustomed to our year-round tropical climate and most remain active by participating in a variety of outdoor activities…in the sun. Additionally, snowbirds flock here annually to escape the cold and embrace our state’s warm winters so they can remain active outdoors.

However, this has led to Florida being ranked 2nd in the nation for the number of skin cancer cases each year. So, let’s get the skinny about skin cancer among seniors in Florida.

Aim at Melanoma Foundation shared the following facts and statistics about skin cancer in Florida:

  • Florida ranks 2nd in the nation for the highest rate of new melanoma cases.
  • An estimated 91,270 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018, with almost 8,000 cases estimated in Florida alone.
  • Approximately 1 in 10 Floridians have been told they have skin cancer (9.2%)

During my research, I also discovered that rates of skin cancer in Pasco and Pinellas counties exceed Florida’s average rate by several points:

  • Pasco County in 2020 = 31.7%
  • Pinellas County in 2020 = 27.5%
  • Florida average in 2020 = 24.3%

There are a number of ways seniors can protect themselves from dangerous UV rays. Aim at Melanoma Foundation outlines specific recommendations for seniors to guard against skin cancer:

Avoid outdoor activities during specific times. The hours just before and after midday are most hazardous for UV exposure, generally from 10 am to 4 pm. Avoid outdoor activities during this time, if possible. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest and you should find shade.

Minimize direct and reflective exposure. To protect against the sun overhead, seek shade as much as possible, whether from a tree, umbrella, or shelter. Be extra careful around water and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of getting a sunburn.

Minimize your length of exposure. Damage from harmful rays can occur in as little as 15 minutes of exposure but the longer you are out, the greater the exposure.

Wear protective clothing and hats. If possible, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothes made with special sun-protective materials. Darker-colored, wide-brimmed hats, made of tightly woven fabric like cloth are excellent for covering the face, nose, ears, and neck. Avoid straw hats which may allow UV rays to penetrate through the holes.

Shade your eyes with sunglasses. Large, wraparound sunglasses provide good protection since they prevent UV rays from entering from the side. Most sunglasses sold in the US protect against both UVA and UVB types of rays, both of which can be harmful.

Be aware of medications that don’t mix with sun exposure. Be even more cautious if you are taking medications that may make you more sensitive to the sun. Those with certain health conditions or on medications including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antifungals, blood pressure medications, chemotherapies, and antihistamines may be at an even greater risk.

Use sunscreen every day, even if it is cloudy. According to the CDC, skin damage can occur from as little as 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. Overexposure to UV rays can occur not only on hot, sunny days — but on cool, hazy, and cloudy days, as well. (It’s not the temperature that burns your skin, it’s the sun’s invisible ultraviolet radiation.)

Your choice of sunscreen is important. By reflecting, scattering, or absorbing UV rays, sunscreens are a valuable tool in protecting the skin. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Make sure it is water resistant and has an SPF of 30 or higher.

If skin cancer has impacted your life or that of a loved one, I employ the most compassionate caregivers at Home Helpers® who help senior women and men every day, and they are always ready, willing, and able to assist with transportation assistance to and from doctor appointments, skin cancer screenings, and treatments.

Additionally, these amazing caregivers are highly trained to deliver exceptional personal care, homemaker services, respite care for family caregivers, and so much more. I gladly offer a FREE Consultation to identify specific ways we can help make life easier.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have been ranked among the Home Care Pulse Top 100 Leaders in Experience for home care providers in 2023 and to have received the Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2023, the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2023, and the Best of Home Care® Leader in Experience Award 2023.

We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539


Aim at Melanoma Foundation



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