Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

Most skin cancer can be prevented by practicing sun protection, according to numerous research studies. Research also shows that not only does sun protection reduce one’s risk of developing skin cancer; sun protection also may decrease the likelihood of recurrence.

Even if you have spent a lot of time in the sun or developed skin cancer, it’s never too late to begin protecting your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) recommends that everyone protect their skin by following these sun protection practices:

Sun Protection Practices

  1. Avoid deliberate tanning.  Lying in the sun may feel good, but the end result is premature aging (wrinkles, blotchiness, and sagging skin) as well as a 1 in 5 chance of developing skin cancer. Tanning beds and sunlamps are just as dangerous because they, too, emit enough UV radiation to cause premature aging and skin cancer. If you like the look of a tan, consider using a sunless self-tanning product. These products do not protect skin from the sun, so a sunscreen should be used.
     

  2. Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
     

  3. Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin every day. The sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and be broad-spectrum (provides protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays).

    Dermatologists worldwide agree that the Australians’ use of the word “slop!” accurately describes how sunscreen should be used. Most people do not apply enough sunscreen to help protect against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered by the Academy to be the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. So when applying sunscreen, remember to “slop!” it on.

    Here are a few more tips:

    • Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck, hands, and toes. Many skin cancers develop in these areas. Protect your lips, another high-risk area, with lip balm that offers sun protection with an SPF of 30 or higher.

    • Sunscreen should not be used to prolong sun exposure. Some UV light gets through sunscreen.

    • Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapplied approximately every two hours.

    • Be sure to reapply sunscreen after being in water or sweating.

    • Sunscreen does not make sunbathing safe.
       

  4. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible. This is what Australians call the “slip!” and “slap!” of sun protection. When you will be out in the sun, be sure to slip on protective clothing, such as a shirt, and slap on a wide-brimmed hat. Here’s why:

  • Clothing protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. The tighter the weave, the more sun protection provided. In fact, clothing plays such an important role in sun protection that clothing designed specifically to protect against the sun as well as laundry additives created to boost clothing’s protective function are available. Your dermatologist may be able to provide you with more information about these products.
     

  • A wide-brimmed hat shades your face and neck from the sun’s rays. Wide-brimmed means the brim circles the entire hat and shades both the face and neck.

  1. Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
     

  2. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun. This can increase your risk chance of sunburn.
     

  3. Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

More Good Reasons to Practice Sun Protection
Aside from skin cancer, the sun’s UV rays also cause:

  •  Premature aging: Signs of premature aging include wrinkles, mottled skin, and loss of skin’s firmness.

  •  Immunosuppression (weakening of the body’s ability to protect itself from cancer and other diseases)

  •  Cataracts and macular degeneration: Macular degeneration, for which there is no cure, is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 and older.


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. To make it easy for Australians to remember how to protect their skin, The Cancer Council Victoria coined this catchy slogan: Slip! Slop! Slap!

Maybe it can help you remember the essentials of sun protection. Here’s what it means:

Slip! – Slip on a shirt.

Slop! – Slop on sunscreen.

Slap! – Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.

The Cancer Council Victoria (Australia) is the registered owner of the trademark
Slip! Slop! Slap!®


Facts About Sunscreen
Answers to frequently asked questions about sunscreen.

     © American Academy of Dermatology, 2010  All rights reserved.
 

Page last updated 3/28/06

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