Making smart behavioral changes and lifestyle choices can prevent skin cancer from ever developing. There are several ways you can avoid this potentially deadly condition or at least reduce your risk of getting skin cancer:
Chemical sunscreens, such those containing the ingredient Mexoryl, work by absorbing damaging ultraviolet light. Physical sunscreens, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, reflect light like an armored coating rather than absorb it.
Choose a sunblock that offers broad spectrum both UVA and UVB protection—the two types of rays that can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone, regardless of skin type, use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. One ounce— about enough to fill a shot glass—is considered enough to properly coat the exposed areas of skin.
Be sure to reapply sunblock every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily. Sunblock isn't just for summertime; it should be used year-round. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds.
Wear Sun Protective Clothing
Wear long-sleeves, pants or a long-skirt, and a broad-brimmed hat to help shield your skin from the sun's harmful rays. It's also important to protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
Read about high-tech sun-protective clothing.
Avoid Tanning Beds
Tanning beds and tanning lamps emit the same UV rays that the sun does. Hours under the lamp are just as dangerous as hours under the sun.
Learn more about the dangers of tanning beds.
Avoid the Sun at Prime Hours
The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Therefore, those are the times when you are more likely to get a sunburn or receive sun damage. Staying out of the sun during those hours by remaining indoors or seeking shade under an umbrella can help prevent skin cancer.
Learn the telltale signs of skin cancer, such as a change in an existing mole or freckle or the appearance of a new one. Perform regular skin self-examinations once a month with the help of a mirror, in addition to regular skin check-ups by your dermatologist, to increase the chances of spotting a problem early on. If you notice any of the warning signs, let your dermatologist know right away.