1. Use sunscreen every day. Choose those with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and with both UVA and UVB protection. Making sunscreen a regular part of your daily health ritual (brush your teeth and hair, put sunscreen on sun-exposed areas — face, neck and arms) will have a tremendous effect on lowering your possibility of developing skin cancer.
2. Wear a hat. Sounds basic, but it helps. A hat with a wide brim covering the neck, face and ears goes a long way toward reducing the impact of the sun’s rays on the skin.
3. Wear protective clothing when possible. This might include shirts with sleeves and tightly woven long pants. This is particularly important for people whose work puts them in the sun during the hottest hours of the day.
4. Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. This is a challenging precaution for many people, but it’s a critical aspect of reducing the incidence of skin cancers. This doesn’t mean you need to stay inside during this time — just that you should try to reduce the time spent under the sun’s strongest rays. Every minute in the sun has a harmful effect. There’s no such thing as a healthy tan.
5. Don’t forget sunglasses. Sunglasses offer yet another strategy for blocking the sun from the skin and eyes. Make sure to buy sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Joshua Fox, M.D., is the director of Advanced Dermatology P.C. in New York City.
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