Quick and simple ways to prevent the most common form of cancer
“The easiest way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin with clothing,” said board-certified dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, MD, FAAD, consulting professor at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. “Keep a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses near your door so you can put them on before you go outside. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants also can help protect from the damaging rays of the sun.”
In addition, Dr. Draelos shares these additional tips for preventing skin cancer:
- Apply sunscreen every day. 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 the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30.
- Use one ounce of sunscreen, an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. 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. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Use extra caution near water, sand or snow as they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.
- If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it. Don’t use tanning beds. Just like the sun, UV light from tanning beds can cause wrinkling and age spots and can lead to skin cancer.
- Check your skin for signs of skin cancer. Your birthday is a great time to check your birthday suit. Checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
For more about skin cancer prevention and detection, visit the Academy’s SpotSkinCancer.org to learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes in your skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in your area. Those affected by skin cancer also can share their story on the website and download free materials to educate others in their community. SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the American Academy of Dermatology’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection, and care of skin cancer.
These tips are demonstrated in “Skin Cancer Prevention,” a video posted to the Academy’s website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the Dermatology A to Z: Video Series, which offers relatable videos that demonstrate tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series will be posted to the Academy’s website and the YouTube channel each month.
Celebrating 75 years of promoting skin, hair and nail health
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States, with one in five Americans expected to develop a form of skin cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, there are simple steps people can take to reduce their skin cancer risk.