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Skin Cancer: Protecting Yourself from the Summer Sun

Wearing sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, wearing a broad-rimmed hat, and sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection can all help protect against the sun.

According to the American Cancer Society, sunscreen alone is not enough. The following is a list of important guidelines to follow when trying to prevent skin cancer:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun.
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen (about a palmful) and reapply after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
  • Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  • Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous because they can damage your skin.     

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Because each has many different appearances, it is important to know the early warning signs, which are:

  • A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
  • A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
    • changes color
    • increases in size or thickness
    • changes in texture
    • is irregular in outline
    • is bigger than 6mm or 1/4” (the size of a pencil eraser)
    • appears after age 21
    • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode or bleed
    • An open sore that does not heal within three weeks.

If you notice one or more of these warning signs, it is important that you see a physician, preferably one that specializes in skin diseases. To find a Crozer-Keystone physician who can answer your questions about skin cancer, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org.

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