How can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Skin cancer is a potentially deadly type of cancer, but steps can be taken to prevent it. Most types of skin cancer are caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays that can come from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds, so limiting exposure to these rays can greatly reduce the individual's chances of developing skin cancer. This doesn't mean avoiding the sun, but wearing hats, sunscreen, and coming in out of the sun before a suntan turns into a sunburn can all help prevent skin cancer.

A change in schedule can help prevent skin cancer by limiting exposure to the sun's rays when they are the strongest. The sun gives off two types of ultraviolet rays, A and B. Rays are strongest around midday, so taking advantage of the early morning or evening hours of daylight for outdoor activities can reduce the amount of harmful rays the individual is exposed to. This can be particularly effective for those who work or exercise around water, as the rays can reflect off the surface of the water and increase the amount of exposure.


Protective clothing and sunscreen can help shield the individual from the same dangerous rays and prevent skin cancer. Many sunglasses have a protective coating on them that blocks UV rays. Sunscreen can be invaluable in many cases, but some individuals can apply it incompletely or incorrectly. The top of the head and especially the skin visible through a part in the hair can be vulnerable spots that rarely get sunscreen applied; wearing a hat that covers the delicate, exposed skin of the scalp can protect this area.

Frequenting tanning salons can be a dangerous way to expose the skin to harmful UV rays. Tanning beds and tanning booths bombard the body with UV rays; while different places might use either A or B type rays, they are both equally dangerous. This can be of particular concern, especially if the individual is predisposed to developing skin cancer; individuals who have a family history of the condition, or have fair hair and pale skin, should take extra precautions to prevent skin cancer.

The earlier that steps are taken to help prevent skin cancer, the more effective they can be. Habits that include protective clothing, sunscreen, and relaxing in the shade instead of the sun should be extended to children as well as adults. In addition to limiting the exposure of the delicate skin of a child, it will also help instill an understanding of healthy skin care while the child is young.


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