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Preventing Skin Cancer

Relaxing in the sun may feel good. But it isn’t good for your skin. In fact, being exposed to the sun’s harmful rays is a major cause of skin cancer. This is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. People of all ages and backgrounds are at risk. But in most cases, skin cancer can be prevented.

Man, woman, and child outside wearing long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses.

Your Role in Prevention

You can act today to help prevent skin cancer. Start by avoiding the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays. And don’t use tanning beds, which are no safer than the sun. Taking these steps can help keep you from getting skin cancer. It can also help prevent wrinkles and other sun-induced aging effects. Make sure your children follow these safeguards, too. Now is the time to start taking preventive steps against skin cancer.

When You Are Outdoors

Protect your skin when you go outdoors during the day. Take precautions whenever you go out to eat, run errands by car or on foot, or do any outdoor activity. There isn’t just one easy way to protect your skin. It’s best to follow all of these steps:

  • Wear clothing that covers your skin. Put on a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears, and scalp. Wear sunglasses that block as many UVA and UVB rays as possible. Sunglasses that wrap around your eyes are best because they block UV rays from the sides.

  • Watch the clock. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when it is strongest. You’re still at risk on cloudy days because clouds only block about 20 percent of UV rays.

  • Head for the shade or create your own. Use an umbrella when sitting or strolling.

  • Know that the sun’s rays can reflect off sand, water, and snow. This can harm your skin. Take extra care when you are near reflective surfaces.

  • Shield your skin with sunscreen. Also, apply sunscreen to your children’s skin.

Tips for Using Sunscreen

To help prevent skin cancer, choose the right sunscreen and use it correctly. Try the following tips:

  • Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The sunscreen should shield you from UVA and UVB (ultraviolet A and B) rays.

  • If one brand irritates your skin, try another.

  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or sooner if you get wet or sweat a lot. If you’re active, do this more often.

  • Cover any sun-exposed skin, from your face to your feet. Don’t forget your ears and your lips.

  • Know that while sunscreen helps protect you, it isn’t enough. You should wear protective clothing, too. And try to stay out of the sun as much as you can, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011

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