lady putting on sunscreen at the beach to prevent skin cancer

Top 10 Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

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Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by Lori Geurin

Wondering how to prevent skin cancer? Get 10 of the best skin cancer prevention tips in this post.

Cancer is a word no one wants to hear. Unfortunately, many people either know a loved one or friend who is fighting it or have dealt with it themselves. There are over one hundred types of cancer and skin cancer is the most common. In fact, one out of five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. The good news is that when skin cancer is found and treated early it can often be cured.

Our Difficult News

Over the years I’ve known several family and friends who have battled this deadly disease. But, a couple of years ago it really hit home when my husband, David found a strange bump on his temple. At first, we didn’t think much of it, not realizing it could be one of the beginning signs of skin cancer.

But then we noticed the spot kept forming a scab and healing over and over. Needless to say, this was concerning so he went to the doctor, who did a biopsy.

The test showed he had squamous cell carcinoma. 

The doctor said it was an aggressive, fast-growing cancer, which sounded scary. Of course, this wasn’t the news we were hoping for, but we were thankful we caught it early.

He was scheduled for surgery soon after with a dermatologist who specializes in the Mohs surgical procedure. While in the waiting room we noticed he was the youngest patient there.

His surgery took a few hours because Mohs surgery is done progressively. The doctor removes one layer of skin at a time and checks each layer and margin for cancer cells under a microscope.

We were so thankful when the doctor reported excellent results and said he was able to remove all of the cancer. We’re grateful he has remained healthy. But it’s made us much more aware of sun protection, especially this beach lover.

Below are the various types of skin cancer, symptoms, and signs to be aware of.

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skin cancer prevention / a lady at the beach putting on sunscreen

Different Types Of Skin Cancer And Symptoms

  1. Actinic Keratoses (AK) – Dry, scaly precancerous growth
  2. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) – The most common type, often a flesh-colored patch of skin
  3. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – The second most common type, spreads quickly and looks like a red bump or scaly patch that heals and recurs
  4. Malignant Melanoma – The deadliest form of skin cancer, often starts in a mole or as a dark spot on the skin

Keep reading to learn how to prevent skin cancer from occurring.

Top 10 Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

  1. Avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm. The sun’s rays are strongest at these times.
  2. Don’t get a sunburn. As soon as you notice your skin turning the slightest bit pink (if you’re Caucasian), that is your warning sign to get out of the sun. Past this, your skin will not produce any more vitamin D and won’t protect you from skin damage (1).
  3. Avoid indoor tanning beds that use harmful UV rays.
  4. Wear protective clothing when you’re outdoors. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts keep your skin safe from the sun.
  5. Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
  6. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade to your face, ears, and neck.
  7. Be extra cautious near water and snow because they reflect the sun’s rays. Also, be aware that sunburns are more likely to occur on windy days.
  8. Apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher at least 15 minutes before you go outside. Reapply every 2 hours or more if swimming or sweating. Please be aware that many sunscreens may contain harmful chemicals, such as oxybenzone. Because of this, it is crucial to read the ingredients before purchasing. EWG.org recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone. Here’s a list of the Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens that meet EWG’s safety standards.
  9. Do regular skin self-exams to detect new spots or changes, such as itching, change in color, bleeding, or sores.
  10. See a dermatologist yearly for a thorough skin exam.

Summary – Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

Finally, if you love the bronzed glow of a summer tan but don’t want to raise your risk of skin cancer, you might consider using a self-tanning lotion. Yes, they contain chemicals too, but there are more natural brands to choose from (see examples below).

Of course, you can always choose to embrace the beautiful skin you’re in. Either way, choosing to protect your skin from too much of the sun’s UV rays will not only reduce your chance of skin cancer. It will also keep you looking younger, preventing fine lines and wrinkles from sneaking in.

Below are some products that can help you with sun protection, including some of my favorite sunscreens and self-tanners. You can click on each item to view more details.

What skin cancer prevention tips can you add to this list? Have you had skin cancer?

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Skin Cancer Prevention Tips”

  1. We are big on sunscreen at our house! Fortunately my parents my all of us aware of the risks of sunburn and tanning beds at a younger age. It’s an awareness I’m glad to have carried with me through life!

    1. It’s great that you’re mindful to be cautious with your fair skin, Chelsea. Two of our children have red hair so this has made me more aware too. I love that you mentioned visiting the dermatologist because it’s important to have regular skin checks. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Ayanna – I hear you! For me, I try to find the just right balance between getting enough sun for the Vitamin D benefits…but not too much that’s going to cause sun damage. It’s a delicate balance.

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