5 Great Tips to Protect You and Your Family from Skin Cancer

The good news is that even though skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, the majority of skin cancers are nonmelanoma skin cancers, which are the types that are easily treatable. The bad news is that melanoma, which is the more aggressive and deadlier form, accounts for only 2% of all skin cancers, but it’s on the rise.

The best news is that you can protect yourself and your family against skin cancer. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The most important thing to be aware of is how to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. The medical team at Danvers Family Doctors, P.C. in Danvers, Massachusetts shares their five best tips to protect you and your family from skin cancer:

1) Stay out of the sun

This is probably not news to you when it comes to tips for skin cancer prevention, but it’s definitely news that bears repeating. The majority of skin cancer cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Obviously, it’s challenging to avoid all sun exposure.

The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 am - 2 pm, so it’s a good idea to seek shade or avoid the sun during that time. A newborn’s skin is highly sensitive to the sun and too sensitive to wear sunblock, so try to keep your baby out of the sun at all times.

2) Cover up

When you are out and about, you can shield yourself by wearing protective clothing. A broad-rimmed hat, UV-protective sunglasses, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, and pants should do the trick. Dress your children in swim shirts or rash guards over their bathing suits when spending the day at the pool or beach.

3) Wear (a lot) of sunscreen

Most people need more sunscreen lotion than they think. You should use about one ounce, or two tablespoons, of sunblock for your body – less for small children – about 30 minutes before you step outside. The ingredients need about a half hour to fully bind to your skin. Be sure to get those easy-to-miss places, like the tops of the ears and back of the neck.

And you don’t need sunscreen only on sunny days. You need to wear it on cloudy days because the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds. Even if you work indoors, you should wear it, especially if you sit near a window. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF, or sun protection factor, of at least 15. It should be higher if you work outdoors.

4) Reapply sunscreen

Many people consider themselves protected from the sun if they slather on sunscreen before they walk out the door. But sunscreen wears off or sweats off, especially if you’ve been swimming or playing sports. It needs to be reapplied every two hours, or sooner if you’ve been active or in the water, for maximum protection.

5) Get regular skin cancer checks

Skin cancer found early is almost always treatable. It’s important to do regular self-checks coupled with an annual full-body exam by a medical professional to detect skin cancer as early as possible.

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