Every day, we are exposed to the rays of sun’s spectrum while performing our daily activities, like morning walks, when shopping outdoors, watering the plants, going to work etc.
Sunlight is essential for maintaining the level of vitamin D in the human body. But the harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) from the sun can cause damage to the skin and lead to skin cancer in susceptible individuals. UV rays are one of the main causes of skin cancer.
During summers, we take care of our skin before stepping out of the house; but we tend to ignore our skin care routine at other times. It is important to protect the skin from the harmful sun rays throughout the year.
What is skin cancer?
Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells of the outermost skin layer (epidermis) leads to squamous form of skin cancer. A major cause of skin cancer is exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.
The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Among all, melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
Are you at risk of developing skin cancer?
Anybody can get skin cancer, but there are certain factors that increase the risk of developing skin cancer. So, assess your risk and look out for the symptoms of skin cancer to detect in its early stage. If the condition is detected in the early stage, the chance of successful treatment is high.
The risk factors of skin cancer are:
- Exposure to sun rays
- Lighter shade of the skin
- Family or personal history of skin cancer
- History of indoor tanning
- Large number of moles
- History of radiation treatment
- History of sunburns
- Sensitive skin
4 ways to prevent skin cancer
Knowing the risk factors of skin cancer helps us take appropriate measures to prevent its occurrence. Some of these measures are:
1. Avoid direct sunlight exposure when the sun is at its peak
Plan your day accordingly so that your exposure to sunlight is minimal during the middle of the day.
During the midday hours, avoid direct sunlight and stay in shade. This aids in preventing the skin from sunburns and suntans that can lead to skin damage, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Sun exposure for long periods may also lead to skin cancer.
2. Applying sunscreen
Sunscreen helps to protect the skin from UV rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with at least 30 SPF are beneficial. The sunscreen can be applied when you go out for work or play, whether it’s a sunny or cloudy day.
Sunscreen should be applied to all the exposed and uncovered skin. Apply a good amount of sunscreen over the skin including tips of the ears, lips, back of the neck, and hands. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours if needed.
3. Wear clothes that cover the legs and arms
The use of sunscreen cannot completely prevent the skin from the harmful UV rays. Therefore, it is advised to wear clothes that cover the arms and legs.
Wearing a broad-brimmed hat may help prevent sun exposure to the face, ears, forehead, and scalp. Also, wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV radiation.
4. Be safe from the sun-sensitizing drugs
Some drugs make the skin more sensitive to sun, including antibiotics. Make yourself familiar with the side effects of the drugs before taking it.
If you are taking any such drugs, be more careful and take extra precautions to protect your skin from sun exposure.
Take away points
Some people are more prone to sun-related injuries than others. It is important for them to regularly examine their skin and look out for changes in existing moles.
Also, one should check for new skin growths, if there are any abnormal changes in the skin, a dermatologist’s opinion should be taken immediately.
Most skin cancers can be prevented, by adopting preventive measures and taking good care of the skin.