How is Skin Cancer Prevented?
After having one skin cancer, you have a greater chance of developing more skin cancers. However, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent further skin cancers. They involve good common sense. Be aware of your environment! While sunscreens and protective clothing are very important, you may well be able to decrease your future UV exposure most significantly by moving elective outdoor activities (working in the yard, walking, running) to very early and very late in the day.
Many activities cannot be relegated to what I call the “edges” of the day (first and last 90 minutes of daylight). To that end, you must have a broad concept of sun protection. It is simply not enough to “slap on some sunscreen.” You should think of sun protection systematically. As mentioned above, time of day trumps all other elements of sun protection strategy. Beyond this however, you can greatly improve your protection by creating barriers between you and the sun. Seek the shade (buildings, dense canopies). Wear appropriate clothes including long pants, long sleeved shirts, wide brimmed hats, sunglasses and gloves. There are many options in sun protective clothing that can be worn in a variety of environmentally challenging conditions.
Lastly, wear high SPF sunscreen. I mention sunscreen last because many still believe “if I wear sunscreen, I have done all that I need to do.” It is just not that simple. Sunscreens can actually be abused in that they may permit someone to be in a high UV environment without being sun burned yet still have significant cumulative UV exposure. Additionally, many people do not apply sunscreen properly or in sufficient quantity. Sunscreen should be “slathered” on so that you see residue on your skin. Properly applied, most people will NOT like the way it feels. It is not a moisturizer. It is SUNSCREEN. For those of you who tan, you will best be able to judge your success in sun protection by noticing diminished or absent tan lines (transition area between tanned and untanned skin).
The graph displayed below (courtesy of NOAA), as well as the link below the graph, will give you useful information about the environmental risk of ultraviolet exposure as relates to time of day and time of year.