What are UV rays?
Ultraviolet rays have three wavelengths—UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA and UVB rays are the ones of most concern. UVA rays are linked to wrinkles and some cancers. But, UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns and most skin cancers. Check out the American Cancer Society’s website, www.cancer.org for more information.
What do I need to know about skin cancer?
The two major types of skin cancer are melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma, an aggressive, life-threatening form of cancer, is readily detectable and usually curable, if treated early. This accounts for the importance of prevention and early detection. Although it can start with a heavily pigmented tissue such as a mole or birthmark, melanoma can occur in a normally pigmented skin, too. While melanoma most commonly appears in the extremities, chest and back, surprisingly, it can arise in the soles of feet, under fingernails or toenails, in the mucus or lining of body cavities and even in the eyes.
The second type of skin cancer, non-melanoma, usually appears in the form of basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer progresses slowly.
How to prevent skin cancer:
- Don’t Sweat It: Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Ensure it offers both UVA and UVB protection. Apply 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and after swimming and swimming. Use at least a handful and don’t forget lips, ears, hands, feet (especially tops!) and the back of neck.
- Cover Up: Wear loose fitting clothing that covers the body. Darker colors offer more protection than white for light colors. Protect eyes by wearing sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Hats with wide brims are helpful, too.
- Get Shady: Seek protection from umbrellas, trees and other forms of cover. Limit exposure to direct sun, especially during the hours of 10am and 4pm when the sun is strongest.
- Don’t Fake It: Never use tanning beds or lamps.
- Check It Out: Pay close attention to any changes in your skin. Get moles, spots and growths checked out by a physician.