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Sunscreen And UV Rays - How To Protect Against Skin Cancer

May 19, 2008
Skin cancer is an increasingly common disease that is thought to be caused by over exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This combined with certain genetic predispositions, like fair skin, can make a person particularly vulnerable to developing skin cancer. Most people get exposed to UV radiation from spending time in the Sun. As it is practically impossible to avoid being in the Sun, minimizing the amount of time spent in the Sun or limiting it's impact on the skin is often advised. This article will cover some of the ways to protect yourself from the damaging affect of the Sun. It concentrates on how sunscreen can protect you from developing skin cancer.

Sunscreen is not the only thing that can be used to prevent skin cancer but should be viewed as a part of an overall strategy that limits your exposure to UV rays.

Avoid going out in the Sun when it is strongest. This means from around 11 in the morning through to 3 in the afternoon. Naturally, mid days is the worst time to be out in the Sun. Granted, this may not always be possible, especially if you work outdoors or leave the office for lunch. In this case take other precautions.

Wear protective clothing. Darker colored garments are better than lighter ones. Cover your arms with a long sleeve shirt. Cover your legs with long pants or socks.

Always wear a hat in the Sun. A hat with a wide brim will protect your face and scalp from UV rays. Some people use a sun umbrella to protect themselves too.

Wear sunglasses that absorb UVA and UVB radiation, as they can damage the eyes. Not only can they cause melanoma developing but they can lead to cataracts and other diseases.

After you have done these things you should then consider wearing sunscreen. Cover the parts of your body that are not covered by clothing. Some advise to cover the arms and legs with sunscreen even if they are covered by clothings as you might roll up your sleeves and it doubles the protection.

Sunscreens come in two types. The more common type is a chemical sunscreen that absorbs UV rays. The other type is a physical sunscreen that reflects or blocks the UV rays (these are sometimes called sunblocks).

The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen is often used to illustrate it's strength and effectiveness. Most advice suggests that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+. However the SPF of a sunscreen only applies to UVB radiation. Although this is thought to be the worst form of radiation for skin cancer, recent research suggest that UVA radiation can be just as bad. If you want a sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA radiation then you should look at what is marketed as broad spectrum sunscreen.

Sunscreens that act as a sunblock are best if you have to spend plenty of time out in the Sun. No doubt you have seen people wearing such creams on the nose or lips. It is almost like a paint that they have applied to the skin. This puts many people off using such creams but they are the best way to protect your skin from the Sun.

Sunblock sunscreen will have either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in them (they are also sometimes referred to as zinc cream). If you don't appreciate having a large band of zinc cream across your nose then an alternative is ultramicronized titanium or zinc sunscreens. They are transparent but do the same job of reflecting UV rays.

Regardless of the type of sunscreen you go for, remember to always reapply it every 2 hours. This may vary depending on how active you are in the Sun. Get a cream that you like in terms of texture or fragrance so that the reapplication is not such a chore.
About the Author
For information on common early signs of skin cancer and different types of skin cancer then visit symptomsofskincancer.net
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