The principal cause of skin cancer is almost universally accepted by medical experts to be overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn or blistering. Other less important factors would include: repeated medical and industrial x-ray exposure scarring from diseases or burns; occupational exposure to such compounds as coal and arsenic, and family history.
Prevention is a matter of guarding the skin against the known causes. Since the sun and its ultraviolet rays would seem to be the main culprit, the most effective preventive method is sun avoidance. Limit the exposure of the skin to harmful rays by covering up and using sun screens with at least a 15 SPF rating.
Sun Protection Tips
- UV reflection from sand, water, pavement, cement and snow doubles the amount of ultraviolet exposure.
- Check your local paper or radio station daily for the UV index. The higher the number, the greater the need for eye and skin protection.
- Protect children by limiting their sun exposure and applying sunscreen to children 6 months and older.
- Stay out of the sun between 10am and 3pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Wear a sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF, even on cloudy days.
- Wear sunscreen under your clothing; a standard T-shirt only provides SPF protection of 5 to 8.
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours, especially during exercise or swimming.
- Be sure your sunglasses have UVA and UVB protections, which should filter at least 80% of the sun’s rays.
- Sunscreen is only a part of a good program, which includes a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, a long-sleeved shirt and pants.
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your lips and ears!!