How can I prevent skin cancer?

The best way to prevent skin cancer seems to be to limit your exposure to intense sunlight, to wear protective clothing such as hats and shirts, and, perhaps, to apply sunscreen and avoid tanning facilities. Although the effectiveness of these practices has not been evaluated in clinical trials, both malignant melanomas and nonmelanomatous skin cancers have been linked to exposure to the sun.

Here are a few helpful tips for protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays:

  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (and thats label states it provides UVA/UVB protection), 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, with careful attention to sun-exposed areas such as the face, hands and arms.
  • Apply lip balm that contains a sunscreen to protect sun-sensitive lips.
  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when its rays are strongest.
  • Wear a large (three-inch), brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your scalp and eyes.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, but you should apply it more frequently if you have been swimming or sweating. Use about 1 ounce of cream—about one shot glass—to cover your entire body with each application.
  • Stay in the shade whenever you can.
  • Limit the time you spend in the sun.
  • Be aware that the sun's ultraviolet rays can reflect off water, sand, concrete and snow, and can reach below the water's surface as well as burn on an overcast day.
  • If you are taking an antibiotic or other medication, ask your healthcare professional if it may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and what you should do about it.

Continue Learning about Skin Cancer Prevention

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.