Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, affecting more people every year than all other types of cancer combined. Most cases of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. This radiation comes from the sun as well as from some artificial sources like tanning beds.
Though it’s difficult to avoid UV rays entirely, you can prevent damage to the skin and detect skin cancer early to reduce your chances of getting the disease and increase the likelihood of successful treatment. Here are five easy skin cancer prevention and early detection tips you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Stay in the Shade
One of the easiest ways to limit exposure to UV radiation is to stay in the shade. The sun’s rays are strongest in the late spring and early summer and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. While it’s healthy to spend time outside, be mindful of how long you spend in the sun during these periods, and stay in the shade when you can.
Cover up With Clothing
The clothes you wear can also help protect your skin from damaging UV rays. When spending time outside, wear clothes that cover most of the skin. Protect the face and neck by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that provide UV protection.
Choose a Good Sunscreen, and Apply It Properly
It’s not always possible to stay in the shade or wear covering clothes, especially if you work outside. As a result, wearing sunscreen is an important part of skin cancer prevention. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every day and SPF 30 or higher during extended outdoor activity.
Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours and after swimming and excessive sweating. Make sure to check the expiration date and avoid leaving the bottle in the sun or heat, as this can reduce its effectiveness.
Avoid Tanning and Tanning Beds
Tanning can damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Avoid tanning outside, and never use a tanning bed. If you still want to tan, use bronzers or self-tanning lotions approved for cosmetic use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instead. These products don’t require sun exposure to work.
Check Your Skin Regularly
Early detection of skin cancer can help improve your chances of overcoming the disease. Examine your skin monthly to look for spots that have appeared or changed in shape, size or color. If you notice an unusual spot, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor. You can also see a medical professional for a yearly skin exam.
At Hamilton Health Center, we provide affordable physical exams for all Central Pennsylvania residents. We believe everyone deserves access to healthcare, which is why our multicultural and bilingual staff members work hard to make Hamilton Health Center your home for health. If you’re worried about skin cancer or have questions about skin cancer prevention, make an appointment with us today.