Skin cancer prevention measures can actively reduce your chances of developing skin cancer if you implement them in your daily routine. The most common form of cancer in the United States, tens of thousands of Americans contract skin cancer every year.
Skin cancer comes in three forms: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Of the three, melanoma is the most dangerous and life threatening. Skin cancer claims the lives of approximately ten thousand Americans on an annual basis.
What causes skin cancer?
Overexposure to ultraviolet sunlight (UV rays) is believed to be the dominant external factor in a person’s development of skin cancer, although genetic factors can play a role. To protect yourself from UV rays, you should take the following 5 steps for proper skin cancer prevention:
1. Avoid Direct Sun Exposure: Avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight during midday (generally from 10am to 4pm). This is the time when UV rays are most intense. Plan your schedule to avoid outdoor activities during these hours. Also, be aware that sand and snow reflect sunlight, so if you’re at the beach or a ski resort, direct sunlight can bombard you from every direction with UV rays.
2. Cover Yourself: When out in the sun, keep your skin covered. Wear long-sleeves and long pants if possible. Wearing a hat with a 3 to 4 inch brim all around is preferable. This will guard your neck and cheeks from dangerous prolonged exposure. Also note that dry, dark-colored garments offer the best protection.
3. Use Sunscreen Properly: You should always use sunscreen when enduring prolonged exposure in the sun. Find a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15 and read the directions for proper application. The higher the SPF, the higher the protection you will receive against dangerous sunburns. However, sunscreen does not offer “bulletproof” protection, and UV rays can penetrate water, so just because you feel “cool” in the water doesn’t mean you’re protected from sunburn.
4. Use Sunglasses That Block UV Rays: Making certain your sunglasses can block UV rays helps to guard your eyes from serious sun damage. The best constructed sunglasses should have a UV ray absorption rate of 99% to 100%. Never assume that darker lenses equal increased protection. UV rays are blocked by a chemical applied to the lenses. This chemical has nothing to do with the color of transparency of sunglass lenses.
5. Stay Away From Tanning Beds: It is a myth to believe that tanning beds and sunlamps are free of harmful UV rays. These cosmetic instruments might make your skin more attractive in the short-term, but they can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer in the long-term. Health professionals advise their patients to avoid them.
By implementing these 5 steps in your daily routine, you can significantly decrease your risk of developing skin cancer, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle that allows for proper exposure to the sun. Another important step in prevention of skin cancer is routine examination by a doctor. If skin cancer is detected early, then your odds of survival are markedly increased.