Prevent skin cancer with sunscreen

Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S. every year. This makes it the most common form of cancer in the country. But it is often preventable. Consumer Reports offers three simple steps to avoid skin cancer this summer and beyond.

Sunburns can increase your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. The best way to avoid skin cancer is to shield yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The first step is to use the right sunscreen and apply it properly.

Consumer Reports recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients, such as avobenzone. And you want to put it on 15 minutes before you go outside.

It’s also important to remember that sunscreen can’t give you 100 percent protection. So, the second step in skin cancer prevention is to always wear clothing and accessories that cover your skin. That includes sunglasses to protect your eyes and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your ears and the back of your neck.

Step three is to seek shade under a beach umbrella or leafy tree, especially during midday hours. The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the spring and summer, and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the fall and winter. Even if it’s cloudy, up to 90 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin.

You should prevent sun exposure on a daily basis because the sun is out there with you, and it’s attacking your skin the same way it does when you’re at the beach.

If you do get sunburned, Consumer Reports recommends taking a cool shower or bath. Use a soothing lotion with aloe vera, take an anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin or ibuprofen, and drink plenty of water. And if the burn is severe, see a doctor.

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