SolveYourProblem Article Series: Skin Cancer
Help Me Understand Skin Cancer



Skin Cancer Prevention - What Can I Do?

The incidences of skin cancer are on the rise in our modern era. It is generally accepted that the change in our environment with growing pollution and the resulting depletion of the earth's protective ozone layer has opened the door for people to be at risk of developing some type of skin cancer.

While any number of factors, such as one's genetic makeup or perhaps exposure to certain risky chemicals, may contribute to getting skin cancer - the most proactive thing we can do to prevent it is to guard against being exposed to too much of the sun's ultraviolet rays. A little bit of sunlight can be very healthful, but a lot is risky.

We may think that just because we don't go in for extended sunbathing that we are doing enough to avoid any issues. But even everyday exposure can build up over time, so in considering some of the following suggestions keep in mind that they are still important for all of us to put into action.

These standard suggestions entail:

Avoiding lengthy activities between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. This is when the sun's ultraviolet rays are the strongest. Even at cooler times of the year or when there are cloudy days the sun's rays can reach us and our bodies will continue to absorb UV radiation. Science indicates that nearly eighty-five percent of the sun's UV rays can still penetrate the clouds.

Invest in sunscreen year round. It is important to remember however, that sunscreens do not filter out all ultraviolet radiation. Apparently they will block UVB rays fairly well, but not all UVA rays. Sunscreens that contain certain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and mexoryl will be a bit better than the average ones at blocking UVA rays. A good option is to choose one that specifies it is broad-spectrum and that has a SPF (or sun protection factor) or 15 or higher.

In applying sunscreen make sure to get all exposed areas of the skin. Do not neglect such areas as the lips (there are lip balms with SPF 15 as well), the tips of the ears, and the backs of the hands and neck. For the optimum coverage - apply it about 30 minutes before going out and around every two to three hours thereafter. Be sure to remember to reapply the lotion after swimming.

Since sunscreens go only so far in protecting us it is recommended that one put on light colored - tightly woven clothing. Invest as well in a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that state that they block both UVA and UVB rays.

Avoid tanning beds. These products emit UVA rays which penetrate deeper into the skin layer and can promote precancerous skin lesions.

Keep aware of any medications that have the side effect of making the skin more sun sensitive. Medications such as antibiotics, some diabetic medicine, certain high cholesterol and blood pressure drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can have this result. It is important to check with your pharmacist or doctor to be certain. This will mean taking extra precautions overall.

Avoid extended close exposure to halogen lighting. These lights also emit UV rays. It has been advised to keep a distance of at least twenty inches from twenty watt bulbs and three to six feet from thirty-five to fifty watt bulbs.

Check the skin regularly in order to be able to catch any new and suspicious spots early on.

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