Too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays causes most skin cancers. Main sources of UV rays are tanning beds, sun and sunlamps. UV rays may damage skin cells. To reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, you should safeguard your skin from UV rays from the sun and avoid artificial sources of UV exposure like sunlamps and tanning beds.
Sunlight is essential for maintaining the level of vitamin D in the human body. But the harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) from the sun can cause damage to the skin and lead to skin cancer in susceptible individuals. UV rays are one of the leading causes of skin cancer.
During summers, you should take care of your skin before stepping out of the house. Do not ignore your skincare routine at other times. Protecting the skin from harmful sun rays throughout the year is essential.
What is skin cancer?
Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells of the outermost skin layer (epidermis) leads to a squamous form of skin cancer. A significant cause of skin cancer is exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.
The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Among all, melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
Are you at risk of developing skin cancer?
Anybody can get skin cancer, but certain factors increase the risk of developing skin cancer. So, assess your risk and look out for the symptoms of skin cancer to detect in its early stage. If the condition is detected early, the chance of successful treatment is high.
The risk factors of skin cancer are:
- Exposure to sun rays
- The lighter shade of the skin
- Family or personal history of skin cancer
- History of indoor tanning
- A large number of moles
- History of radiation treatment
- History of sunburns
- Sensitive skin
4 ways to prevent skin cancer
Knowing the risk factors of skin cancer helps us take appropriate measures to prevent its occurrence. Some of these measures are:
1. Avoid direct sunlight exposure
Avoid direct sunlight when the sun is at its peak. Plan your day accordingly so that your exposure to sunlight is minimal during the middle of the day. During the midday hours, avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade. This aids in preventing the skin from sunburns and suntans that can lead to skin damage, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Sun exposure for extended periods may also lead to skin cancer.
2. Apply sunscreen
Protect the skin from UV rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with at least 30 SPF are beneficial. The sunscreen can be applied when you go out for work or play, whether it’s a sunny or cloudy day. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed and uncovered skin. Apply a good amount of sunscreen over the skin, including the tips of the ears, lips, back of the neck, and hands. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours if needed.
3. Wear clothes that cover the legs and arms
Using sunscreen cannot wholly prevent the skin from harmful UV rays. Therefore, wearing clothes covering the arms and legs is advised. Although it’s tempting to lose the clothing, keep those shirts on. Better yet, seek protective clothing instead of traditional cotton fibres. You should wear sun-protective clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor – or UPF rating. A UPF 50 rating means that one in 50 sun rays reaches the skin. “UPF is partly dependent on the fabric’s weave (a tighter weave gives more protection), the weight and density of the fabric, and the color. Choosing a garment with a UPF label often means that the garment is fashionable as well as functional, with light, breathable fabric. You can often find UPF labels on long-sleeved shirts, pants and wide-brimmed hats.
Covering up with such clothing can help you avoid skin cancer and painful sunburns. Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention because it prevents or reduces” the damage that UV radiation can inflict on skin cells. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat may help prevent sun exposure to the face, ears, forehead, and scalp. Also, wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV radiation.
4. Be safe from the sun-sensitizing drugs
Some drugs make the skin more sensitive to the sun, including antibiotics. Make yourself familiar with the side effects of the medications before taking them. If you are taking drugs, be more careful and take extra precautions to protect your skin from sun exposure.
Some people are more prone to sun-related injuries than others. It is essential for them to regularly examine their skin and look out for changes in existing moles. Also, one should check for new skin growths. If there are any abnormal changes in the skin, a dermatologist’s opinion should be taken immediately. Most skin cancers can be prevented by adopting preventive measures and taking good skin care.