Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays and affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk. While people of color get skin cancer at lower rates than Caucasians, they frequently are diagnosed at more advanced stages than their white counterparts.
The American Academy of Dermatology offers tips to protect your skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure and to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Apply sunscreen. When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and that has a SPF of at least 30.
- Use one ounce, or an amount about equal to the size of your palm, of sunscreen. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don’t forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears and the top of your head.
- Seek shade. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Protect your skin with clothing. For the best protection, wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use extra caution near water, sand or snow. The sun’s rays are reflected off of these surfaces, increasing your chances of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, such as salmon and fortified milk, or take vitamin D supplements.
- Check your skin for signs of cancer. Checking you skin and knowing your moles is key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
For more information about skin cancer prevention and staying safe in the sun, visit www.aad.org.