Beach days are upon us, and although basking in the sun is relaxing and fun, it is also hazardous for your health. Skin cancer is both dangerous and common – it is the most common form of cancer in the United States and over two million people are diagnosed annually. Even more startling, sun exposure is the primary cause of over 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer cases reported in the United States.
Stay safe in the sun. Some people possess characteristics that place them at a higher risk for developing the disease. These risks include:
- Having a large number of moles on the body.
- Red or blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin and freckles.
- Difficulty tanning and skin that burns easily.
- Family history of skin cancer.
- Taking medication that increases sun sensitivity.
Prevent sun damage. Use these prevention techniques while you are out in the sun:
- Avoid getting a sunburn while outside.
- Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its peak in the sky.
- Wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics and a hat that shields your face, neck and ears.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your retinas and prevent the development of cataracts.
- Use sunscreen that is at least SPF 15, applying it all over your body and lips.
- Do not use tanning beds; they are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
Healthy Hints. Avoiding excessive sun exposure is ultimately the best way to protect your body from skin cancer. If you must go in the sun, routinely inspect your body for any changes such as a new freckle or enlarged mole. If you suspect you skin is new or has changed in appearance, consult a dermatologist immediately.