It is important to understand what contributes to the risk of getting skin cancer and how to help prevent yourself, family and friends from developing it. Research has shown that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the number one cause of skin cancer. UV radiation penetrates the skin and causes cell damage that can potentially develop into skin cancer over time. The major source of UV radiation exposure encountered on a daily basis is transmitted from the sun. Artificial sunlight, produced from tanning bulbs and lamps, also yields harmful UV radiation to the skin.
There are multiple ways to prevent overexposure to UV radiation. Limiting sun exposure, applying appropriate sunscreen often, wearing protective clothing and avoiding tanning bulbs/lamps are ways to keep your skin healthy and lower the risk of developing skin cancer.
Limit Sun Exposure
Your skin is exposed to harmful UV rays from the sun throughout the day. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate your skin and cause damage. The intensity of the sun’s rays is greatest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but skin damage can occur from sunup to sundown.
Always Apply Sunscreen
If sun exposure is unavoidable, applying the appropriate sunscreen can help protect the skin from harmful UV radiation. Here are some key points to keep in mind when purchasing and applying sunscreen.
Wear Protective Clothing
Multiple articles of clothing should be worn if sun exposure is unavoidable. Though it is not always comfortable to wear clothing that covers the entire body during the summer months, it is important to wear what can be tolerated and apply sunscreen to areas of the skin that are left unprotected.
Children & Sun Exposure
A few serious sunburns early in life can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, as a teenager or adult. A child’s skin is more susceptible to harm from UV rays. On average, about 23 percent of sun exposure during a person’s lifetime occurs by the age of 18.
Avoid Tanning Beds & Lamps
Tanning beds and tanning lamps are alternatives to sunbathing used to achieve desired darkening of the skin. It has been suggested by the tanning salon industry that the use of tanning bulbs is a safer alternative to tanning under direct sunlight.