Skin cancer, or the abnormal growth of skin cells, most commonly develops due to skin exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays, often from sunlight. Cancer of the skin begins in the epidermis, or upper/outer skin layer, which is made of three kinds of cells where cancer can grow: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. 

Skin cancer continues to be one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer, but it is also the most preventable.

Here are a few tips to help you stay clear of skin cancer:

Use Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

It’s essential to protect your skin with sunscreen outdoors, even on cloudy or cool days. It is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher designed to protect against UVA and UVB rays. For extended outdoor use, select a water-resistance sunscreen and an SPF 30 or higher. Apply your sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating. 

Seek Shade

Avoid the sun as much as possible by seeking shade or staying indoors on mainly sunny days. The hours where the sun is the strongest and most likely to cause burn is between 10 am and 4 pm. 

Wear Protective Clothing and Accessories

Cover up with protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses when going outdoors.

Avoid Indoor Tanning

Never use tanning beds or sunlamps to tan, as they expose you to intense UV rays and can leave you vulnerable to severe burns. 

Perform Regular Skin Cancer Self-Exams

One of the best ways to be proactive against skin cancer is to give yourself monthly checks with a self-exam. When examining your skin for skin cancer signs, remember the ABCDE rule:

  • Asymmetry – The spot has an unusual shape with two sides that are not symmetrical.
  • Border – The spot has a jagged or uneven edge.
  • Color – There is not a consistent color across the spot.
  • Diameter – The spot is more significant than a pea.
  • Evolution – You have noticed the spot has changed within the past few weeks or months.   

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