Take these simple steps to prevent skin cancer

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in three Texans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their life. Even if you don’t plan to spend the day at the lake, you are likely to soak up some rays as you run errands, walk your dog or mow the yard.

Dr. Martin A. Weinstock of the American Cancer Society states that it’s impossible to completely avoid sunlight, nor would it be wise.

According to Dr. Weinstock, the best protection is “slip, slop, slap.” Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.

Dr. Carol Rice of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service said skin cancer is usually curable if caught early. It’s also easily preventable by following these simple steps:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use a broad-spectrum UVA / UVB protection and water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It should be applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. Apply every two hours while in the sun, and after swimming or perspiring.
  • Wear a hat with a 3-inch brim to make sure your hat covers your face and neck.
  • Cover your arms and legs in the direct sun. Dark, tightly woven clothing is best.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes from damaging rays.
  • Don’t fall for the story about indoor tanning being safe.
  • Check your skin regularly. Look for new moles or changes in existing moles, dark patches, or long lasting pearly-looking bumps.
  • If you need more color in your skin, use a self-tanning lotion that uses DHA, a harmless dye that wears off in 5 to 7 days.

To learn more about skin cancer and ways to prevent it, stop by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s sun safety display at the upcoming Summer Safety and Fun Festival at First United Methodist Church in Decatur May 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. Additional activities and information will also be available from Decatur Police and Fire Departments, Fit-N-Wise and the Decatur Public Library.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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