Imagine spending lazy days under the sun, no thoughts on how to prevent skin cancer, swimming in the deep blue-green crystal clear waters, strolling barefoot on powder-like sand and your skin turning golden brown. “Perfect”, you might say but I say, “it’s far from perfect”. What’s wrong with such a holiday on the beach? For one thing, the sun emits dangerous ultraviolet radiation and your skin turning golden brown is not safe. The truth hurts but being baked alive results to harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation such as your skin produces free radicals. These free radicals are poisonous molecules that damage your skin’s collagen, cells and DNA.
Damage to collagen results to wrinkles and coarseness of your skin’s texture. And as you stay longer under the sun without using any protection, your skin’s natural defense mechanism weakens and leads to pigmentation. Over time, excessive sun exposure may cause damage to your cells and finally, skin cancer! A fun beach vacation is still possible as long as you know the 7 ways on how to prevent skin cancer and the other dangerous effects of ultraviolet radiation on you.
So how to prevent skin cancer? The single most effective way to prevent damage to your skin is to completely stay out of the sun. But staying out of the sun is not that simple especially when you live near the equator where the sun is out almost all the time or when you love the outdoors. What to do then? There are 7 practical and effective steps on how to prevent skin cancer and in protecting yourself from the other harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. The 7 skin cancer prevention strategies:
1. Avoid the sun between 10am to 4pm. The UV rays of the sun are very intense and very harmful within this time frame. Try to go outside before 10am and after 4pm.
2. Always apply a good sunblock or sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum means it can protect you from deadly effects of ultraviolet radiation. For daily use (meaning you are inside a building between 10am to 4pm), a sunscreen with an spf of 15 is sufficient.
However, for the climate in the Philippines, a sunscreen of at least spf30 is required for everyday use. For outdoor activities, you need a sunblock with at least spf50 especially if you are in the beach or in an elevated area where the effects of ultraviolet radiation are more intense.
3. How to prevent skin cancer? Wear protective clothing. Light clothing will not give ample protection from the sun as ultraviolet radiation can penetrate light material. Clothing should be tightly woven.
4. Wear a hat with a wide brim as a wide brim provides better coverage for your face, ears and back of head and neck.
5. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. The sun can also damage your eyes causing cataracts to form. The best types of sunglasses are those which offer 100% UV protection, wrap around your eyes from side to side and have polarized lenses. These types of sunglasses may cost more but don’t scrimp. Remember, it is your precious eyes they are protecting and so, it’s worth the price.
6. Follow the shadow rule. The shadow rules says, “when your shadow is short, go and seek shade”. When the sun’s intensity is at its peak, your shadow appears shorter. During this time, do seek shade under an awning, a tree or an umbrella. But always remember that this is not a good step on how to prevent skin cancer because you are not fully protected.
7. Finally, drink lots and lots of plain water especially when you are out in the sun for a long time. No colas or other sugary drinks, please. The effects of ultraviolet radiation are not only felt by your skin and your eyes but also by your immune system. Follow the 7 strategies on preventing skin cancer and the other damaging effects of the sun and your beach holiday will be a lot more fun and safer.