Skin Cancer

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The main way to avoid skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun's ultraviolet rays. There are several ways to do this. These include:

  • Stay indoors or avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest. When you are outside, remember that the shorter your shadow, the more damaging the sun's rays.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, depending on your skin type. SPF measures a sunscreen's protection against UVB rays only, so look for sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply a sunscreen as part of your daily routine. Do so generously for maximum protection, especially on body parts easily overlooked (i.e., lips, tops of ears, head, back of neck and hands, and feet). Some moisturizers and foundation include sunscreen.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun.
  • If you are perspiring or in the water, you must reapply sunscreen more often regardless of the instructions on the packaging.
  • Wear protective clothing (e.g., wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants, sunglasses with UV protection).
  • Stay in the shade, and avoid reflective surfaces such as water, sand, snow, and concrete. You can burn from indirect exposure to the sun.
  • Beware of cloudy days. You can still get burned.
  • Don't use sunlamps or tanning beds. There is no such thing as a safe tan.

Last reviewed on 7/21/09

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