5 Essential Tips for Preventing Skin Cancer
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 whenever you plan to spend time outdoors. Never step outdoors without first applying sunscreen. It's especially important to keep children protected. Children typically spend more time outdoors than adults and most people receive the bulk of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18.
Apply sunscreen to every area of exposed skin, including the back of your neck, the tops of your ears and your toes. Be aware that even when the sun is hidden behind clouds, its damaging rays still seep through. These rays reflect off bright sand and snow to cause even greater damage. Use a lip balm with an SPF rating, and always carry sunscreen and lip balm with you to reapply when you're away from home. Sunscreen should be reapplied about every 90 minutes.
Avoid the Sun During Peak Hours
The sun's rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Arrange your schedule to be inside during these hours, planning your outdoor activity for early morning or late afternoon. If you're skiing or heading to the beach, you may want to wait until 4 p.m. to get started.
Stay in the Shade
When you're outdoors, seek shade wherever you can find it. If need be, bring a beach umbrella, parasol or pop-up tent with you.
Cover Your Skin
Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants as much as possible, and seek out fabrics that contain an SPF of their own. Wear a hat that protects your face; if you choose a baseball cap, be aware that your neck is still exposed. Wear sunglasses too, as the sun can also damage your eyes, and squinting against its bright light causes wrinkles.
Keep an Eye on Your Skin
When you're out in the sun, watch for signs of sunburn. Cover up or go inside as soon as you sense a sunburn starting. Ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on your skin as well. Ask him to check the areas you can't see well for any odd skin growths or moles that seem to be changing shape. Get a yearly dermatology check-up if you are genetically predisposed to skin cancer.
Even when the sun doesn't seem to be shining, you may still be at risk for sun damage and even skin cancer, which afflicts over 1 million Americans per year. Although some people are genetically predisposed toward skin cancer, there are still many steps you can take to prevent it. Every serious sunburn you get increases your risk of skin cancer later in life, so start following these tips early and teach them to your children.