We enjoy long hours of sunshine in most parts of India. Basking in the early-morning sun is pretty pleasurable and healthy as it promotes formation of vitamin D. However, harsh afternoon sunlight may lead to sunburn and skin damage. Prolonged exposure to the strong sunlight may also lead to skin cancer. 

Skin cancer is a condition with abnormal and cancerous skin growths. This often develops due to the over exposure of skin to the rays of the sun. Skin cancer affects those areas of skin which remains sun-exposed including ears, neck, chest, scalp, lips, face, hands, arm and legs. It can also develop on those areas of skin that are not exposed to sunlight like beneath toenails or fingernails, on palms and on genital area.

The good news is you can prevent skin cancer by following some easy tips. However, one must also be aware of the factors that can increase the risks of getting skin cancer:

  • Fair complexion: Less pigment in the skin makes an individual more vulnerable to harmful UV radiation. 
  • Excessive sun exposure: Exposure to the sun may lead to skin cancer if you don't protect your skin by sunscreen and clothing. 
  • High-altitude places: Living at higher elevation also makes you more vulnerable to radiation because the sunlight is strongest there.
  • Moles: People with abnormal/irregular/larger than normal moles are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Precancerous skin lesions: Skin lesions are scaly, rough patches that range from brown to dark pink in color. The most commonly affected areas are head, hands and face of fair-skinned people.
  • Weak immune system: Weak immune system caused by HIV or AIDS and immunosuppressant drugs that you take after an organ transplant may increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

5 Easy Tips to Keep Prevent Skin Care:

1. Use sunscreen year-round

Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection to your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. They have PA protection and SPF of more than 15. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion 20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Use it even if you are indoors. Repeat application every 3-4 hours even if the SPF of your sunscreen is high. You should apply it even when it’s cloudy as the sun rays easily penetrate clouds, and during winters as well. 

2. Stay properly covered up

While stepping out in the sun, make sure to wear a scarf, cap and clothes which properly cover you. Be aware of sun exposure during the peak hours between 10 am to 2 pm to avoid tanning and sunburns.

3. Be extra careful near water, snow and sand

Water, snow and sand reflect the sun’s rays, increasing the chances of sunburn. Take extra care of your skin when near them.

4. Check if your medicines are sun-sensitizing

Some over-the-counter drugs and antibiotics can increase your sensitivity to the sun. Ask your doctor or pharmacists about such side effects before taking the medicines.

5. Examine your skin once a month

Check for any newly developed spots or marks. Also examine changes in existing moles, freckles and birthmarks. Visit your dermatologist if the moles suddenly appear larger, red, discharge fluid or become painful. Consult the dermatologist for a professional skin exam at least once in a year.

Skin cancer is preventable. Follow these simple steps for healthy skin and keep skin cancer away.