One in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. That makes skin cancer the most common cancer in the United States. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly preventable by avoiding excessive sun exposure.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, but sun protection is important year-round. Here are a few tips to protect yourself outdoors:
- Stay in the shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are the strongest.
- Wear dark-colored clothes made of tightly woven fabrics and a hat that shields your face, neck and ears.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
- Use sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, applying it all over your body and lips. Reapply at least every two hours—and after swimming or sweating.
Routinely inspect your skin for any spots or changes in color or appearance. If you have any concerns, see your doctor.
Sunscreen Label 101
Like other over-the-counter drugs, sunscreens follow regulated labeling guidelines. Here’s how to decode your sunscreen label:
- Broad-spectrum protection works against both UVA (skin caner and premature aging) and UVB (sunburn) rays.
- The sun protection factor (SPF) is the level of protection against harmful UVB rays.
- Check the expiration date. Sunscreens are usually good for two to three years.