When I was a youngster, we soak up the sun for days without sun protection creams. The problem is that most skin cancer damage exposure happens before the age of 18 years old. Men have double the risk for skin cancer than women. The high-risk age for skin cancer occurrence amongst men is between 35-39 years of age. I was cleared this year for skin cancer, which I am glad for and will not neglect to go for a skin cancer check annually after the pre-cancer cells detected on my face last year.
Lifestyle recommendations for skin cancer prevention
- No direct sunlight exposure between 9.30 am and 4 pm. Sit under a sun umbrella or tree with sunscreen on your skin between the above times.
- Remember that UV rays reflect off cement, water, sand, glass and grass and can therefore cause sunburn in the shade. Heat and UV-rays are not the same and you can be sunburned on overcast days.
- Where protective clothing and hats to block UV rays. Look out for beachwear with the “CANSA” seal of recognition to protect yourself and your family against sunburn.
- A SPF (sun protection factor) of 20 should always be applied as part of your daily routine and SPF of 50 when you go to the beach. Re-apply after towel drying, perspiring, swimming or at least every 60-120 minutes. Apply the SPF cream to all areas – including ears, lips, hands, neck, hands, arms and feet. A sunscreen is not a license for sun exposure – remember no direct sunlight between 9.30 am and 4pm.
- Only wear sunglasses with a UV rating of 400 or more.
- Apply a lip balm with a SPF 20 hourly or more frequently.
- Avoid tanning parlours and or sunlamps.
- Children – under the age of one year – no direct sunlight is recommended and after one year of age the other recommendations apply.
- Have a regular self-check for skin changes and visit your dermatologist once a year.
- Take a daily supplement of 400IU Vitamin D.
Prevention is always better than cure. Look after your skin by following the above recommendations and visit your dermatologist annually for a skin cancer check. You can also get more information from Cansa.org
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