Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources, such as tanning beds. In order to prevent skin cancer, you must take a thorough approach to shield yourself from dangerous UV radiation.
1. Limit Your Exposure to the Sun
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to limit your time in the sun. UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, so it’s important to stay out of the sun during peak hours (10am-4pm) whenever possible.
If you must be in the sun, make sure to wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Wear a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears. Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
Seeking shade is also a good way to protect yourself from the sun. However, remember that UV rays can reflect off of surfaces like water, sand, and concrete, so you’ll still need to be cautious even in the shade.
2. Don’t Get Sun Burned
If you do get sunburned, treat the burn as soon as possible. Take a cool bath or shower, apply aloe vera gel, and avoid further sun exposure until the burn has healed. You’ll increase your risk of skin cancer if you get more sunburns at some points.
3. Use Sunscreen
Another great way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to use sunscreen. Make sure to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, ears, and hands. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
4. Avoid Tanning Beds that Use Concentrated UV Light
Tanning beds emit UV radiation that can damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. If you must use a tanning bed, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe use.
5. Examine Your Skin Regularly
It’s important to examine your skin regularly for any unusual changes. If you notice anything unusual, or if you’re at high risk for skin cancer, or if you have any concerns about your skin, be sure to see a doctor for regular skin exams.