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Stave off skin cancer with these effective, expert-backed ideas.
We’ve all been there: After a day at the beach or on the trails, you look in the mirror and, oops, you’re sunburned. The tender, red skin symptoms are temporary, but just one bad sunburn can double your risk of melanoma—the most dangerous type of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Although skin cancer is more common in light-skinned people, more than 2 million Americans of all complexions were diagnosed in 2012, making skin cancer the most common cancer in the United States. Fortunately, when caught early, it has a high survival rate. Follow these steps to reduce your risk for years to come.
3 tips from a dermatologist
Ritu Saini, MD, Skin Cancer Foundation, New York
Practice protection. Shielding your skin against the sun drastically reduces skin cancer risk. When outside, wear a loose, long-sleeve shirt, a broad-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses. Slather on a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and seek shade when the sun is at its strongest—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Nix tanning. There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Indoor tanning beds emit harmful UV radiation the same way the sun does, using both UVA and UVB rays. Cumulative tanning damage can lead to premature wrinkles and brown spots, and just one indoor tanning session increases melanoma risk by 20 percent.
Schedule a yearly exam. Promptly diagnosed and treated skin cancers are almost always curable: For people whose melanoma is detected before spreading to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. Sometimes skin cancer occurs on rarely exposed areas, such as the soles of your feet and mucous membranes in the nose or mouth, so schedule an annual professional skin exam with a physician.