Expert provides sun safety tips for Skin Cancer Awareness month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, intended to call attention to the most common, but also most preventable, form of cancer. With summer just around the corner, the campaign provides a timely opportunity to save lives by raising awareness to the dangers of unprotected sun exposure, and ways it can be prevented.
Skin Cancer:- May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, intended to call attention to the most common, but also most preventable, form of cancer. [Pixabay]
Skin Cancer:- May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, intended to call attention to the most common, but also most preventable, form of cancer. [Pixabay]

Skin Cancer:- May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, intended to call attention to the most common, but also most preventable, form of cancer. With summer just around the corner, the campaign provides a timely opportunity to save lives by raising awareness to the dangers of unprotected sun exposure, and ways it can be prevented.

Dr. Stephanie Lareau with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine outlined many ways to protect yourself from too much ultraviolet radiation outdoors, with tips about how to choose sunscreen, how to dress, and more.

Choosing and applying sunscreen

“Application of sunscreen has been shown to reduce actinic keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma, two common types of skin cancer. It can also reduce photoaging, premature aging of skin from sun exposure, a process that can lead to cancer,” Lareau said.

“Consumers might wonder what sunscreen ratings mean. SPF, or sun protective factor, is the amount of time before the skin starts to turn pink. It only measures UVB radiation, the kind of ultraviolet rays that cause skin damage,” Lareau said. “If a typical person would start to get sunburn after about 10 minutes, once they apply an SPF 30 sunscreen it will take 300 minutes for them to get sunburned. A simple formula would be ‘SPF x amount of time to burn without sunscreen = time to burn with sunscreen.’”

“Studies have shown that people typically do not apply enough sunscreen for it to be fully effective, typically putting on about half or less of the amount needed,” she said. “A high SPF rating may somewhat compensate for not applying enough sunscreen. Even so, most sunscreen wears off after about 2 hours.”

“You should apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply it within an hour, and then every two hours if you are out in the sun a long time. You should also reapply it after swimming or bathing.,” said Lareau.

Preventing sunburn with apparel

“Wearing the right combinations of clothes, hats and sunglasses is also very effective for preventing sunburn,” Lareau said.

“Clothing is graded on UPF scale, while is ultraviolet protection factor. It measures the amount of ultraviolet radiation that can penetrate fabric, measuring both UVA and UVB rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a rating of UPF 30 or more. Some clothing has this data on the label.”

“Generally, very dark or very bright colors absorb more UV rays. Tighter weaves also offer more protection, as does loose-fitting clothing,” she said. “Cotton typically provides good protection by absorbing UV, and shiny polyester by reflecting radiation. Some high-tech fabrics are treated to absorb UV as well. If you can see the sun through the fabric, it is unlikely to provide much protection.” Newswise/SP

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