The Risk Factors for Developing Skin Cance

With summer fast approaching many more recreational hours will be spent in the sun by most children and many adults. Unfortunately, there is danger in being too carefree about the amount of time spent in the warming rays of the sun. Anyone can get skin cancer, but the following factors can put you at a higher risk and therefore should prompt additional caution before heading outdoors:
.    A lighter natural skin color
.    A personal or family history of skin cancer
.    A history of sunburns early in life.
.    Skin that burns, freckles or reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
.    Blue or green eyes.
.    Naturally blond or red hair.
.    Exposure to the sun through work or play

The most common form of cancer in the USA is skin cancer. Fortunately, the two most common type, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are highly curable. The third most common skin cancer, melanoma, is more dangerous and can be lethal. Repeated unprotected exposure to the sun can result in developing these types of cancers.

Protect yourself and your children from the sun by using a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF value of 15. Sunscreen should be applied year round on any skin which is exposed to the sunís damaging rays even while driving the car. Time spent in direct sunshine should be limited especially between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the sunís rays are very intense and the most damaging. If you or your children are swimming or enjoying a dip in the pool, lake or ocean try to use a water resistant sunscreen and reapply when you towel off. Your skin can be damaged by rays from the sun which reflect off the water and sand.

In addition, wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses. Be sure to protect all exposed skin including ears, front and back neckline, scalp, hands and feet especially when wearing sandals. Also, seek shade whenever you find yourself outdoors. Carry a light colored umbrella to use for protection if you find yourself on a sunny ball field or at a parade or athletic event which has little shade protection.

Although serious burns are most likely to occur on warm, sunny days, you still need protection from the UV rays on cool and even partially cloudy days. Itís wise to carry extra sun block in your car or in your childís backpack.

In addition, avoid using tanning beds and sunlamps as the UV rays emitted are just as damaging as the sunís UV rays.

If you notice any changes on your skin or changes to existing moles or marks it is a good idea to have them looked at by your physician or dermatologist. Early detection is key in treating the various types of skin cancers.

The information has been obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and has been provided by the Norwood Board of Health.


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