Saturday, December 25, 2010

Key Elements to Protecting Your Skin: Sunscreen and Sun Exposure

This Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer festivities, meaning additional time exposed to the sun’s rays. To keep your skin healthy and to decrease the likelihood of developing skin cancer, it is recommended that you limit the time you spend in direct sunlight and use the proper sunscreen. With over 1 million Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each year, it is wise to take precautions. Overexposure to the sun has been directly linked to the development of skin cancers, including the deadly form known as melanoma, but research has proven that the application of sunscreen can significantly reduce the chance of development.

Although applying sunscreen is a simple task, surveys show that almost one-third of Americans are not bothering with this simple yet life-saving effort. According to a 2009 survey of 1,000 adults conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 31 percent of Americans don’t use sunscreen at all while 69 percent only use it occasionally. The survey also revealed that men tend to use sunscreen less often than women. In addition, about 27 percent of parents having children under the age of 12 reported that they seldom apply sunscreen to their children for two to four hours of sun exposure, while 14 percent don’t apply any sunscreen to their children, even for a lengthy amount of sun exposure.

Considering the lack of use of sunscreen by many, it is vexing that one-fifth of those surveyed visited a physician out of fear that they may have skin cancer. Their fear is not unfounded. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than there are occurrences of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. In addition, the incidence of melanoma is increasing at the fastest rate of the seven most common cancers with an expectation that 62,480 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with almost 8,420 of them resulting in death.

To best protect against the development of skin cancer, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the daily use of a sunscreen having an SPF of 15 or higher. In addition, avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. and avoid burning and tanning, including UV tanning booths. Apply sunscreen in the amount of 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) over your entire body at least 30 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours. As a further precaution, cover your body with clothing, as well as a broad-brimmed hat and wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Sunscreens may be used on infants over the age of six months. However, newborns must be kept out of the sun for total protection.  Closely examine your skin on a monthly basis and visit your physician annually for a professional exam.

Source: Susan news

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