The Skin Cancer Foundation gives some sobering statistics about the incidence of skin cancer in the United States. Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and one in five Americans are predicted to develop skin cancer in their lifetime. While most cancers can be successfully treated in the early stages, many people still die from skin cancer each year. In fact, more than 20 Americans die each day from skin cancer, predominantly from melanoma skin cancer.
Most skin cancers develop due to long term exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Sun exposure not only increases your risk for developing deadly melanomas, it also is the primary reason for skin aging. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of visible skin changes attributed to aging are caused by the sun.
Another reason to protect your skin is if you have already had skin cancer. Once you have skin cancer you are at more risk to develop more cancerous lesions in your lifetime. You want to be extra vigilant about protecting those areas of skin where you previously had skin cancer.
So how can we prevent skin cancer and skin aging if we go out into the sun?
One of the ways I am sure everyone knows by now is to slather on the sunscreen each time you go outdoors and reapply every couple of hours. But there are other ways, in addition to using sunscreen, to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
Here are some extra easy ways to shield your skin from the sun and prevent skin cancer:
1. Wear protective clothing. There are a lot of options nowadays to find lightweight, comfortable clothing which also offers protection from the sun. If you do a web search of “Sun Protective Clothing” you are going to find everything from long sleeved swim shirts to swim tights and sun hats. One company which offers a variety of protective clothing, and is recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation, is a company called Coolibar. Their garments have a UPF of 50 which means that they will block 98% of UV radiation.
2. Wear a hat. Those wide brimmed or floppy hats can really help to keep the sun off your face and scalp. Many skin cancers develop on the face and neck area. If you wear a baseball hat, don’t forget your sunscreen especially for your ears and neck. Hats with UPF protection can also be found on the Coolibar site.
3. Wash your clothes in a UPF enhancing detergent. There is a product you can now buy to add UPF protection to your clothes. The Skin Cancer Foundation along with Good Housekeeping approve of a laundry rinse product called Rit Sun Guard which can add extra protection to your clothing. It is fairly inexpensive at about $2.00 a box which is good for one wash. One box will provide protection for up to 20 washings and will increase your clothing’s UPF level to 30. The web site says that it is fine to use for people who have sensitive skin. In addition to purchasing this product from their web site, you may also find it at stores such as Walmart or Walgreens.
4. Wear a photosensitive bracelet. Spafinder, a sponsor of The Skin Cancer Foundation, has initiated “Melanoma Initiative” which is a campaign to educate the public about melanoma detection and prevention. The company has developed photosensitive bracelets which change color from white to purple to indicate when you may be exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays. The inscription “I will reflect” on each bracelet serves as a reminder to get out of the sun or reapply the sunscreen. This melanoma bracelet may be purchased from the Spafinder web site for under $5.
5. Don’t forget the shades. Your eyes need protection from the sun too. The American Cancer Society recommends that you get wrap-around sunglasses with at least 99% UV absorption to protect not only your eyes but the delicate skin around the eyes. Make sure to read the label to make sure it says "UV absorption up to 400 nm" or "Meets ANSI UV Requirements" as this will ensure that your sunglasses will provide you with adequate protection. If there is no such label you cannot assume that your sunglasses will give you any protection at all
For more ways to protect your skin from skin cancer please read these additional articles from Skin Cancer Connection:
Published On: August 16, 2010