Skin cancer prevention: Minimize your risk

Summer is full force as are sunshine filled days and ultraviolet (UV) rays! The more unprotected sun exposure an individual experiences, the higher the risk of skin cancer and early aging – so everyone should take steps for skin cancer prevention.

Generally, skin cancer develops over the span of ten years or more; however, the development may be accelerated with repeated sunburns, regular indoor tanning, or extensive time spent in the sun without sunscreen. Ultraviolet rays are responsible for many of the benefits and damaging effects for skin. Many sources emit ultraviolet radiation, including the sun, tanning beds, and some lasers to name a few. Are you protecting yourself from these harmful rays?

Quick ways to minimize your risk:

  • Shade yourself: find coverage with trees, awnings or tents
  • Minimize your direct sun exposure during the midday sun (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Protect your eyes: wear sunglasses that protect from UV rays
  • Cover your skin: wear long sleeved shirts and pants when possible. Wide brimmed hats may provide protection of your ears, face and neck.
  • Apply sunscreen whenever outside, even on cloudy days
  • Try to use minimum of 30 SPF. However, 50 SPF is encouraged.
  • Reapply every two hours and after sweating or swimming.
  • Be aware of UV reflection from concrete, water, sand and snow that can intensify the damaging potential.
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Regular use of tanning beds before one’s mid-thirties will increase an individual’s risk of melanoma by nearly 60%, according to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. This risk continues to increase with every use.
  • Be aware of your medication’s side effects: certain antibiotics and other medications increase skin sensitivity to UV light

Remember: Sunburns may take at 4-12 hours to appear after exposure to the sun.

If you have any further concerns or questions about skin cancer or preventing skin damage, visit the Centers for Disease Control website, or contact your primary care doctor or dermatologist. The team at Reid Family & Specialty Care would also be happy to talk to you about any concerns.

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