Home Healthy Living Living Healthy with American Health: Skin Cancer Awareness

Living Healthy with American Health: Skin Cancer Awareness

by WALA Staff
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Summer means more time in the sun, which can lead to skin damage or worse if you're not careful.

Whether you're spending time in the garden, by the pool, or at the beach, follow these important tips to help keep you and your family protected.

apply sunscreen

One of the most important things you can do to protect your skin is to wear sunscreen every day, especially in the summer, but don't neglect it in the winter or when it's hot.

cloudy. To prevent cancer, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

If your shoes don't provide full coverage, apply a thick layer to all exposed skin, including the tops of your feet. Ask for help to make sure all hard-to-reach areas, like your back, are protected.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend sunscreen for infants under 6 months of age. Instead, you should avoid the sun during the day and wear protective clothing if you need to be outdoors.

Be sure to reapply sunscreen frequently if you're in the sun for more than two hours, and every hour if you're swimming or sweating, as this can cause the sunscreen to wear off.

avoid UV rays

Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays damage skin cells and are a concern on sunny days as well as cloudy and cool days.

In addition to wearing sunscreen to protect yourself from UV rays, you can also avoid sun exposure when it's at its strongest. Typically this is between 10am and 4pm

Be especially careful around reflective surfaces such as water, sand, and cement, as this increases the chance of sunburn. Pay attention to the daily UV forecast for your area, and be especially careful to protect your skin when UV rays are above 3.

If you want to achieve a sun-kissed look, it's best to avoid all forms of tanning and opt for spray or lotion tanning products.

Wear protective clothing

If possible, stay in shade, such as under an umbrella, to reduce sun damage. You can also wear protective clothing made from tightly woven fabrics to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Choose a wide-brimmed hat that protects your face, ears, and back of your neck. Avoid straw hats with holes that allow sunlight to shine through. If you wear a baseball cap, make sure it protects your ears and the back of your neck.

Sunglasses not only protect your eyes from UV rays, they also help protect the skin around your eyes. Choose lenses that offer protection from both UVA and UVB. Most sunglasses sold in the United States meet this standard.

Get regular skin tests

You should do this yourself regularly: look at moles and freckles on your skin and note any changes in size, texture, or color, but see a doctor if you notice any itching or bleeding.

Generally, you should have a full body exam with your doctor or dermatologist once a year, or check to see if you have any worrisome moles. You may need to schedule more regular visits based on your sun exposure and family history.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about screening and save lives. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it's also the most treatable, especially if caught early. In addition to regular screenings, you can take these steps to protect your skin and yourself:

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