Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Five Tips to Keep Your Skin Safe

Skin cancer affects millions of people around the world every year. Although there are several factors responsible for skin cancer, exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the most common cause. With a little effort, you can stay safe and avoid this deadly disease. The following steps will help you protect yourself.

1. Minimize sun exposure: Avoid going out in the sun as far as possible. The UV rays in the sun cause damage to the DNA in the skin, thereby leading to skin cancer. The sun is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so limit your exposure to sunlight during these hours. Every sunburn greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. While outdoors, try to avoid direct exposure to sunlight and stay in the shade at all times.

2. Use sunscreen properly: Do not step outdoors without applying sunscreen first. Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin against both UVA and UVB radiations. It should have a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30 to provide sufficient protection. Apply sunscreen liberally on your skin 20 to 30 minutes before stepping out so that it is absorbed properly. Reapply it every two hours, for as long as you are outdoors. Use sunscreen everyday, even when it’s cloudy outside. The sun’s rays can cause skin damage even when the weather is cool or the sky is overcast.

3. Cover up as much as possible: Clothing is an effective barrier to the sun’s rays. So cover yourself well when outdoors. Stick to long-sleeved shirts and tops with closely spun material. This will prevent sunlight from reaching your skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover your face and neck. Also use wrap around sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection to protect your eyes and the delicate skin surrounding it.

4. Fake your tan and avoid cancer: Getting a tan is always dangerous;, irrespective of whether you tan in the sun or at a tanning center. Both methods involve exposure to harmful UV radiation. This results in skin damage that can later cause skin cancer. Several studies have linked indoor tanning to increased occurence of skin cancer in women. Fake tan from a bottle is a much safer option.

5. Pay proper attention to any skin changes: Make sure that you closely observe moles and marks, as well as any other skin changes on your body. If you notice any change in size, color or shape, have them promptly checked by a doctor. Remember that most skin cancers can be successfully treated if caught early. So look out and stay safe.

What are your tips for protecting your skin?

Kimberly Kirby

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