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4 Tips to Help Prevent Skin Cancer This Summer

It can be hard to resist spending as much time in the sun as possible during summer. Unfortunately, exposure to UV radiation not only causes premature aging, but it also significantly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to spend the entire summer hiding out in the basement.

Scott deVilleneuve, MD, at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, is an experienced surgeon who specializes in melanoma and skin cancer procedures. He recommends taking these four steps to help protect your skin so you can prevent developing skin cancer during the summer months.

1. Slather on the sunscreen

The first thing you should always do before heading outside is apply sunscreen. But, it’s important to note that not all sunscreens offer equal protection.

The sun has two types of ultraviolet radiation: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). The UVA rays cause skin aging and long-term damage, and the shorter UVB rays are to blame for sunburn. Exposure to both of these forms of radiation can increase your risk of developing cancer, and one in five Americans develops skin cancer by age 70.

That’s where the right sunscreen comes in. Purchasing sunscreens labeled “broad-spectrum” protect against both UVA and UVB rays. On top of that, the only broad-spectrum sunscreens that can help protect against skin cancer have an SPF of 15 or higher. If you’re spending extended periods outdoors, choose a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

2. Wear hats and cover up

The summer sun may feel great on your skin, but you’ll do yourself a big favor by wearing protective clothing and accessories, even on cloudy and hazy days.

Protective clothing, especially new fabrics with high tech protection and breathability, can help cover sensitive skin and keep you cool at the same time. On top of clothes that protect your arms and legs, Dr. deVilleneuve recommends wearing a wide-brimmed hat that shades your eyes, ears, face, and neck. For the best level of protection, look for labels that say “UPF,” or ultraviolet protection factor. These labels indicate how much of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric.

And, before heading out, don’t forget to grab your UV-blocking sunglasses, which can protect your eyes as well as the skin around them.

3. Be more careful during peak times

While you should protect your skin year-round, UV rays are at their highest during late spring and early summer in North America.

To play it safe, stay in the shade during midday hours when UV rays reach their peak — especially between 10am-4pm — and check your skin regularly for changes. Important things to look for include:

The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommends that adults see a dermatologist annually for regular skin cancer checks. 

4. Avoid getting sunburned

No one wants to suffer through a sunburn, but they cause more than pain and itching. When you get sunburned, it’s a visible sign that the DNA within your skin cells sustained damage, which over time, can turn into cancer. 

And, before you think you can safely get a healthy glow using a tanning bed, think again. Even using a tanning bed once increases your chances of developing skin cancer, and using them before you turn age 35 increases your chances of developing melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer — by 75%.

To protect yourself from skin cancer and irreversible damage to your skin cells, play it safe by wearing sunscreen, covering up, and avoiding peak times of UV rays. Taking these steps can help you avoid irreversible damage on a cellular level and keep your skin healthy in the years to come.

For information on skin cancer or to get treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.

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