Because sun exposure contributes to both categories of skin cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma, sun protection over the course of a lifetime is the most important aspect of skin cancer prevention.[i]
Below are five easy-to-follow ways to protect yourself from excessive sun exposure year-round and reduce your risk of skin cancer:
- Avoid sun exposure during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
- Wear protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants.
- Properly apply sunscreen. Proper application includes using liberal amounts of lotion and reapplying at least every two hours. Allow 20–30 minutes for the sunscreen to be absorbed before you are exposed to the sun.
- Dermatologists commonly recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA, with a recommended minimum SPF ranging from 15 to 30. Ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone (Parsol 1789) indicate broad spectrum protection. In addition, a sunscreen approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006—Anthelios SX —may offer improved protection against UVA along with protection against UVB. Anthelios SX contains ecamsule (Mexoryl™), avobenzone, and octocrylene.[ii]
- Monitor your skin for suspicious changes by performing a self-exam every three months and seeing a dermatologist once a year.
If you’re a parent, remember that because much of our sun exposure occurs during childhood, parents and grandparents are encouraged to help children develop good sun protection habits early.
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[i] American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2006. Available at cancer.org/docroot/STT/stt_0.asp. Accessed April 17, 2006.
[ii] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA News. FDA Approves a New Over-the-Counter Sunscreen Product. July 24, 2006. Available at: fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01417.html. Accessed January 9, 2007.