One in five people will get skin cancer in their lifetime. That includes 800 Utahns who are diagnosed each year. The good news is that skin cancer can almost always be cured when it's found and treated early. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from sun damage. With summer upon us, it’s especially important to be vigilant about sun protection.
A sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged by too much UV radiation. In fact, getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer. Sunburn doesn't have to be raw, peeling or blistering. If your skin becomes pink or red in the sun, it's sunburnt!
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Parents need to be advised to pay more attention to protection from early-life sun exposure for their kids in order to reduce the likelihood of developing melanoma as they grow up. Older individuals should also be cautious with their sun exposure, because cumulative sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer
There are two types of UV radiation:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA). UVA radiation is able to pass through glass and may cause premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. Research suggests that UVA may also play a role in causing basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB radiation is more closely linked with the development of skin cancer and melanoma. UVB radiation causes sunburn and does not penetrate through car windows or other types of glass.
It is important to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB radiation
Here are five ways you can protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet radiation:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply every two hours or after swimming.
- Wear protective clothing: especially a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts/pants when possible.
- Seek shade when possible.
- Avoid the sun from 10-2pm when the suns rays are the strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds.