Skin Cancer Prevention
Steps for Skin Cancer Prevention
The following steps have been recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology to help reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer:
- Apply sunscreen. When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30.
- Use one ounce of sunscreen, an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don’t forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears, and the top of your head.
- Seek shade. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Protect your skin with clothing. When going outside wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use extra caution near water, sand or snow as they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.
- Don’t use tanning beds. Just like the sun, UV light from tanning beds can cause wrinkling and age spots and can lead to skin cancer.
- Check your skin for signs of skin cancer. Your birthday is a great time to check your birthday suit. Checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
- PROTECT CHILDREN: Remember 80% of your lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18. Regular use of sunscreens in children can significantly reduce their chance of developing skin cancer later in life. Do not use sunscreen on children under 6 months of age. Limit their sun exposure.
Prevention of skin cancer by proper sun protection is most important. Early detection, however, is essential since most skin cancers are easily cured if caught in the early stages. To aid in early recognition of any new or developing lesion, self-examinations are helpful. To perform your self-examination you will need a full-length mirror, a hand mirror, and a brightly lit room. Family members can also assist in regular self-examinations, especially for the back.exposed areas of the body.
A sunscreen protects your skin from the suns Ultraviolet (UV) radiation by either absorbing or reflecting the UV rays. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measurement of the protection level. This number, however, is based mainly on protection from UVB and not UVA rays. UVA rays are also important for skin cancer and skin aging. Titanium dioxide and Parsol® 1789 are newer compounds in sunscreens, which provide broad coverage for both UVA & UVB.
- Choose sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.
- Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
- Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard-to-reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide-brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.
- Your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays every time you go outside, even on cloudy days and in the winter. Whether you are on vacation or taking a brisk fall walk in your neighborhood, remember to use sunscreen.