Are You Doing Everything You Can To Prevent Skin Cancer?
About one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer during some point in their lives as this is the most common type of cancer. In over 90 percent of cases, the culprit is the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Fortunately, the majority of skin cancers can be prevented. If you’re worried about developing skin cancer, here are some basic skin cancer prevention measures.
Use the Right Sunscreen
When choosing a sunscreen, be sure it has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. This means that the sunscreen will prevent a person from getting sunburned 30 times longer than if the product isn’t used. The higher the SPF number, the greater is the protection. Also, the fairer your skin is the higher SPF sunscreen you’ll need.
“The rays form the sun that damage the skin are composed of both UVB and UVA light,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and skin cancer expert in Austin, Texas. “The SPF rating reflects the ability of a sunscreen to protect you against UVB rays only.”
It’s therefore not enough for a sunscreen to have a SPF greater than 30. Consider that both UVA and UVB light are harmful to skin. Because being overly exposed to UVA or UVB sun rays can lead to skin cancer, it’s critical to wear a sunscreen that also offers “broad spectrum” protection.
Wear Protective Clothing
When you venture out in the sun, be sure to cover your skin with the proper clothing. Rather than donning a T-shirt, wear a long-sleeved shirt. Choose clothing made from fabrics that are tightly woven because less UV can penetrate through your skin. For example, denim and tweeds are ideal garments, while open weave fabrics don’t offer as much protection.
Some clothing nowadays even comes complete with a UPF rating. “This UV Protective Factor in clothing is pretty novel,” says Dr. Mamelak. “Essentially, as long as you leave your shirt on, these clothes act as a sunscreen that you will never sweat off.”
To protect your face, use a wide-brimmed hat. As even your eyes can become sunburned, protect them by using UV-blocking sunglasses. For maximum eye protection, wear wraparound sunglasses as they cover more of your eyes than sunglasses with small lenses.
Stay Out of the Sun When the Rays Are the Strongest
For most North Americans, the sun’s rays are the most intense from 10 a.m. through 4.p.m. Therefore, schedule outdoor outings during other hours of the day. Even on overcast days, or in winter, damaging sun rays can be reflected off of ice, snow, water and sand. Therefore, protect your neck and hands.
Additional Considerations and Warnings
- Sunscreen diminishes in its effectiveness after two hours of sun exposures, so sunscreen should be reapplied.
- Because there isn’t a sunscreen that’s 100 percent waterproof, you need to reapply it after being in water or following intense exercising.
- Regularly examine your skin for changes. A that could suggest cancer include changes in skin color, texture or sores and spots that crust, itch, hurt or bleed.
- Don’t use UV tanning beds or spend time tanning in the sun.
- Surprisingly, drinking a single cup of coffee daily can also help in preventing skin cancer, reducing the likelihood of getting non-melanoma skin cancer.
Dr. Mamelak and his colleagues evaluates patients with skin disease and treats skin cancer at Sanova Dermatology and the Austin Mohs Surgery Center. Don’t hesitate to call us for all types of skin issues. Our skin care professionals serve the greater Austin area and use the latest technology and techniques. Please contact us.