Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It can develop almost anywhere on the body, but most often on areas of the skin that get the greatest exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It’s commonly found on the face, chest, arms, and hands. There are three main types – Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Melanoma (read more). Skin cancer is largely preventable, and you can reduce your risk by limiting or avoiding exposure to UV radiation.
Most skin cancers are preventable. If you want to lower your risk of developing skin cancer, the primary step is to decrease your exposure to UV rays by avoiding direct sunlight and tanning beds. Follow these tips to protect your skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Avoid peak sun hours
Limit your sun exposure, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. If you are outdoors, stay in shaded areas. It is best to schedule your outdoor activities for earlier or later in the day. Avoiding the sun at its strongest helps you avoid the sunburns and suntans that cause skin damage. Follow this even in winter or when the sky is cloudy, because UV intensity has more to do with the angle of the rays, than the temperature or the sun’s brightness. UV rays reflected off surfaces like water, cement, and sand are just as dangerous. Even if it may not appear hot outside, sun damage can still happen.
Sunscreen is one of the best tools for protecting your skin from UV rays. 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. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing, at least 30 minutes before going out. Moreover, reapply almost every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating.
Wear protective clothing
Sunscreens don’t provide full protection from UV rays. Therefore, while going outside wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protective lenses. Dark coloured clothes and tightly woven fabrics are safer options.
Avoid tanning beds
Tanning is a sign of skin damage. Lights used in tanning beds emit UV rays and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Therefore, avoid tanning beds, sun lamps, and any other source of UV radiation.
Get vitamin D safely
Sunlight enables our body to produce vitamin D. You need sun protection as much as you need vitamin D. You can limit your sun exposure and protect your skin by covering up, and still meet your vitamin D requirements through a healthy diet, or taking vitamin D supplements.
Check your skin regularly
Check your skin regularly for new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, and bumps. Checking your skin and knowing your moles are important to detect skin cancer in its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the greatest chance for successful treatment. This is especially important for people who have a history of skin cancer in their family. The best way to check is to stand in front of a mirror and beginning with the face work your way down, using a handheld mirror for difficult-to-see places. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice any changes.
When it comes to Skin Cancer – Prevention is better than Cure!