Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the US. Each year, over one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer and the number of skin cancer cases increases every year.
Fortunately, skin cancer is also the most preventable type of cancer. There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer. Since much of skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to UV radiation and much of this exposure comes from the sun. So, one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is to limit your exposure to sunlight.
Here are some simple ways that you can take to reduce your exposure to sunlight, avoid sunburn and eventually prevent the skin cancer risk:
- Avoid or limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially if you live in areas with bright sunlight year-round or at high altitudes.
- Wear sun-protective clothing. Long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, or long pants cover the most skin and are the most protective. Clothes made of fabric labeled with a UV protection factor (UPF) may provide better protection.Some companies now make clothing that is protects against UV exposure even when wet. These sun protective clothes may have a label listing the UPF value (on a scale from 15 to 50+). The higher the UPF value, the higher the protection from UV rays.
Baby’s suit made from sun-protective fabric and designed to cover the infants from the neck to the knees are popular in the US. They are now available in the Amazon store.
UV-protective sunglasses are also recommended, look for ones labeled with a 100% UVA/UVB protection.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. The SPF number represents the level of protection against UVB rays provided by sunscreen. The higher the SPF number, the more protection from UV rays. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure, so that it has time to absorb (chemically bond) into the skin.
- Wear a hat that shades the face, neck, and ears. A wide-brimmed hat is ideal because it protects areas such as the ears, neck, forehead, and scalp that are often exposed to sunlight.
- Avoiding the use of sun lamps, tanning booths, and tanning lamps, because they can cause long-term skin damage, which have been linked to melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Use the “Slip! Slop! Slap! …and Wrap” catch phrase to remind you of the four key ways to protect yourself and your family from UV rays: “Slip on a shirt”, “Slop on sunscreen”, “Slap on a hat”, and “Wrap on sunglasses”. These steps are complementary and if used together, they may provide the best protection for you.