More than 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year and most are associated with exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun.
And even though it’s the most common form of cancer in the U.S. it is also one of the most preventable. You can help reduce this percentage and keep yourself and others safe with a bit of skin cancer prevention.
• Use sunscreen. Apply a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and a minimum SPF of 30 at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. This includes cloudy days when we often forego this precaution. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Pay close attention and make a generous application to lips, tips of ears, and the backs of your neck and hands.
Keep a bottle of sunscreen in your garden tool kit as a reminder to apply throughout the day. If it’s easily accessible, you are more likely to apply it as needed.
• Avoid intense times. Avoid gardening and outdoor activities when the sun is most intense. This is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Find those shady spots in the landscape to weed or relax during that time. Avoiding the intense sunlight means cooler temperatures that make working in the garden more enjoyable.
• Cover up. Cover up for greater protection. Wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your ears, scalp, neck and face from the sun. Pick clothing with a tightly woven fabric that helps block harmful UV rays.
Be sure to include gloves when purchasing sun protective clothing. Look for knit gloves that provide 50+ UPF, Ultraviolet Protection Factor. These gloves are made of lightweight, breathable fabric and come in a variety of colors, including skin tone, making them easy to wear when working, driving or participating in any outdoor activity.
• Protect your eyes. And don’t forget about your eyes. Wear sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat to protect your eyes when gardening, relaxing or recreating outdoors.
• Check your skin. Check your skin regularly for any suspicious moles, spots, growths and changes. And visit your dermatologist at least once a year. They can help you detect and manage problems early.
— Melinda Myers has written numerous books and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.
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