All over the world, there are millions of people who suffer from skin cancer, the excess exposure to the sun being among the most often incriminated factors in the appearance of such health problems. The usage of sunscreen as a method of protection against skin cancer has been recommended since the 1970s, with The Skin Cancer Foundation drawing attention to the importance of using such products. In this article, we will discuss about the measures you can take, in order to prevent skin cancer and protect your skin against the harmful action of the sun.
Simple measures Matter More Than You Might Think
The most important thing that you can do is reduce your exposure to the sun, especially during the summer. Visit the beach only in the early morning or in the late afternoon, as the sun is not as strong in those moments of the day. Wear sunglasses with UV protection, adorn a broad-rim hat and use cotton clothing to cover your skin. If you have tanned excessively and you want to brighten dull skin, you can use fresh lemon juice. The one thing you have to remember is to avoid immediate sun exposure, as the lemon juice makes the skin more sensitive to the action of UV rays.
No matter how tempting it may to be to spend all day on the beach, it is recommended to avoid such a prolonged exposure. You have to use sunscreen protection, with a SPF of at least 15. For the face and other sensitive areas, you can go as high as 50. If you are wondering what the SPF refers to, it provides you with the timeframe you can spend in the sun, without the skin getting burned. It is just as important to avoid tanning beds, as these are even more harmful (direct exposure to UVA rays, which are mainly responsible for the appearance of skin cancer).
Sunscreen Protection All Year Long
How to have beautiful skin? Well, one of the best things that you can do is to use sunscreen protection all year long. First of all, it is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion, in order to be protected against both UVA and UVB rays. Second, as it was already mentioned above, you should choose one that has a SPF of at least 15 (and higher for sensitive areas).
During the summer, waterproof sunscreen lotions are recommended, especially if you are the kind who likes to spend a lot of time in the water. Don’t think that your skin comes in touch with the sun only on the beach. On the contrary, the water, be it ocean or lake water, reflects the rays of the sun and leads to the additional tanning of the skin (higher risk of skin cancer). For water-based activities or any outdoor activity for that matter, go with a sunscreen lotion that has a SPF of at least 30.
It is indicated to apply the sunscreen with at least half an hour before going outside, so that it is properly absorbed into the skin. The application should be repeated at every two hours, in order to ensure the proper protection of the skin. The timeframe is even shorter in the situation you are engaged in various physical activities, you have gone into water (no waterproof lotion available) or you are the kind to sweat profusely.
Medication can make you More Sensitive To The Sun
You need to be aware of the fact that there are certain drugs that can make you more sensitive to the action of the sun, thus increasing the risk of skin cancer. Whenever you are given a new medication, you should check the prescription and talk to the doctor about such matters. Antibiotics are among the most common sun-sensitizing medication, so it is recommended to avoid prolonged or excess exposure when following such treatments.
What else can do you?
Everything that has been discussed about can be fit under the cancer protective factors category. This category includes the measures you can take, in order to reduce the risk of melanoma, such as spending less time in the sun, using sunscreen or avoiding tanning beds. But there are also risk factors to be considered and worked upon.
For example, smoking is considered a risk factor, including when it comes to skin cancer. As smoking affects the entire circulation of the body, it can contribute to the appearance of melanoma. So, you need to quit smoking and find healthier alternatives to satisfy your nicotine craving (for example, with the nicotine gum or patch). It is also recommended to follow a healthy diet, one that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding foods that have been excessively processed or those that contain a lot of sugar/fat. Regular physical exercise can lower the risk of cancer as well.
National Prevention Programs
Recognizing the importance of preventing skin cancer and alarmed at the rising rates of melanoma, certain countries have introduced national prevention programs for such health problems. For example, in Australia there is such a program, due to the high number of skin cancers in the country (Australia has a larger ozone hole above it). The prevention program recommends people to always seek out shade, rather than spend time in the sun. At the same time, it recommends using protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and, of course, sunscreen. The main idea is to increase awareness about skin cancer and educate the general population about the protective measures that can be taken (as the ones presented above).
Final word of Advice
Skin cancer is a serious health problem, as it presents a high rate of mortality. The early detection is essential for successful treatments but its prevention is even more important. It is recommended to give careful consideration to the preventative measures included in this article and follow them accordingly. Do not think it cannot happen to you, as we all present the same risks, when it comes to melanoma.