Prevent Skin Cancer While Enjoying the Summer Weather

Organization: Live Healthy Topics:
Prevent Skin Cancer

With longer days and beach weather, summer brings more fun into your life. Favorite summer activities like baseball games, outside barbeques with family and beach volleyball bring you into direct contact with the sun's rays. While being in the sun is very enjoyable, it can often lead to skin cancer if you don't protect yourself.

Skin cancer is the most common type of all cancers – with melanoma being the most common type of skin cancer. Melanoma cancers develop from the pigment-making cells of the skin – melanocytes. These cells also can form into benign growths, called moles.

Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common type of keratinocyte cancer. Keratinocyte cancers share features with keratinocytes – the most abundant type of normal skin cell. Each year, about 3.5 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed. Basal cell carcinomas are found in the lowest layer of the epidermis (skin). This slow-growing cancer, is usually developed on sun-exposed areas, especially in the head and neck region. Squamous cell carcinomas appear on sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, lips, ears, etc. Also, they can develop in scars and tend to be more aggressive than basal cell cancers.

The best way lower your risk of basal and squamous skin cancers is to limit your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted from the sun. Just a few simple sun safety measures can keep you protected all summer long.

Wear Protective Clothing

  • Cover up when you're in the sun.
  • Longer sleeves or pants are the most protective.
  • Dark colors and tightly woven fabrics offer more protection.
  • Clothes made of compacted fabrics that can't be seen through when held up to the light are best.

Grab A Hat

  • Hats help protect your face, ears and neck from getting sunlight exposure.
  • A wide-brimmed hat offers the best protection of your face, ears, neck and eyes.
  • Baseball hats are good at protecting the front of your head, but they do not cover your neck and ears.
  • Straw hats are not as protective as hats made of tightly woven fabrics.

Put On Sunscreen

  • Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen provide more protection against UV rays.
  • It is important to wear sunscreen all the time, but especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the UV rays are strongest.
  • A sunscreen with a sun protector factor (SPF) of 15 or higher is a good defender. Most dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30.
  • Sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before going outside.
  • Wear sunscreen even on a hazy day. Even if you don't see the sun, the UV rays still come through the clouds.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming, drying off with a towel or sweating heavily to continue protecting your skin.

Shade It Up

  • Sunglasses help protect your eyes from sun exposure.
  • Wrap-around sunglasses with at least 99 percent absorption offer the best protection.
  • If sunglasses do not say "UV absorption up to 400 nm" or "Meets ANSI UV Requirements," do not assume that they have any UV protection.

Get Screened

It is recommended that men and women between the ages of 20 and 39, should receive a head-to-toe visual exam for skin cancer every three years. When you turn 40, it is recommended to receive a yearly head-to-toe visual exam.

By following these simple sun safety tips and getting screened for skin cancer, you are lowering your risk for skin cancer and can still continue to enjoy the summer sun.

Source: American Cancer Association.