Question: If we ever get sunlight in Cleveland again, what is the best way to protect myself from skin cancer?
Answer: According to The American Association of Dermatology, in the United States this year, more than 2 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed. Most Americans will have one of these skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma (the most common), squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma. Most of these cancers are the result of damage caused by UVB (burning rays) and UVA (penetrating rays) from the sun.
Your question brings up some very good points that should be made. The fact that we don’t see much sun in Cleveland, leads people believe that they are safe from the damaging effects of the sun. In fact, UVA rays can still infiltrate the clouds and have harmful effects on the skin. Another issue due to the scarcity of sun in our area, is the number of people who want to get some color by using tanning beds. Research has proven that tanning beds & sun lamps will increase a person’s risk of getting melanoma by 75%.
For skin cancer prevention you need to take the following precautions:
First, stay out of tanning beds altogether and limit your hours in the sun, specifically between the hours of 11:00am – 1:00pm when the sun is at its highest intensity.
Secondly, when exposed to the sun, use a broad spectrum sunscreen, one that protects you against both types of ultraviolet rays, UVA & UVB. Choosing the right sunscreen is important. SPF is the sun protection factor rating on sunscreens. I would recommend that most people use a waterproof and sweat proof sunscreen product that has an SPF of at least 30. Application of the sunscreen should occur20-30 minutes prior to exposure to the sun and should be reapplied regularly, every 2 hours or after swimming. Reapplication is very important.