Three Easy Ways You Can Prevent Skin Cancer

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What do warmer weather and sunshine and spending time outdoors have in common? Skin cancer. Directly related to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US; over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. In recognition of National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve rounded up the top tips for protecting your skin all year round.

1. Use sunscreen.
We know you’ve heard this before, but that’s because it’s the easiest and most effective way to ward off harmful UV rays. While lighter skin tones are more susceptible, individuals with darker skin can still get cancer and still need sunscreen.
It’s important to use a full-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are those responsible for sunburns and damage the superficial top layers of your skin. Even if you don’t end up with red skin, you’ve still been exposed to harmful UV rays. UVA rays account for 95% of all the ultraviolet rays that come to the Earth’s surface and are far more damaging to skin. They can penetrate clouds and glass, and play a major role in skin aging and wrinkling. UVA is the dominant tanning ray and is known to cause lasting damage; these rays increase the rate of melanoma and can even initiate the development of cancer.
Since these rays are so prevalent and powerful, it’s important to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days and even if you think you are not spending much time outside. Remember to put sunscreen on any exposed skin, especially your hands! The skin is typically thinner on your hands, so it’s often the first to show signs of aging and wrinkling. Your hands also spend a lot of time in the sun while you’re driving and are exposed to those UVA rays that can penetrate the windshield glass.

2. Cover up and seek the shade.

Whether you’re out for a walk, planting in the garden or soaking up sunshine at the beach, cover up your exposed skin, especially during peak sunshine hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Use broad-rimmed hats, sunglasses to protect your eyes, and loose, flowing clothing — even if you’re also using sunscreen. Remember, more is better when guarding your skin from damage. If you’re swimming or excessively sweating, remember to reapply sunscreen frequently too.

3. Give yourself a full-body skin exam.

Just as women should conduct regular self breast examinations, it’s important for everyone to assess and examine their skin once or twice a year. Use a handheld and full-length mirror and enlist the help of a loved one for hard-to-see places like your back and scalp. Examine all parts of your skin including your scalp, under your arms, underneath finger and toenails, palms, soles of your feet, heels and genitals. If you notice new or dark spots or moles on your skin, or spots that are irregularly shaped, contact your physician or dermatologist for a professional exam. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Protecting your skin is simple and easy and has the added beauty benefits of slowing the signs of aging. 
Article by
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon