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How to keep your skin healthy and prevent skin cancer

Health By Vivianne Wandera
Carefully caring for your skin can help prevent skin cancer (Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash)

Every cell in your skin has the ability to become a cancerous cell if exposed to cancer-causing conditions. Skin cancer though previously uncommon, is becoming more and more common particularly with increased exposure to causative agents.

ALSO READ: Ask the doctor: What is the link between milk and cancer?

Nevertheless, by following these simple rules you can protect yourself from getting skin cancer.

1. Get annual check-ups

Yearly visits to a dermatologist is the best way to keep track of any skin changes you have been experiencing. A non-healing pimple or a mole might be skin cancer and many people are unaware of this as they think it is normal to have a mole.

Check-ups are important as skin cancer can easily be mistaken for something else if not checked by a professional.

2. Wear sunscreen

It does not matter what season it is, always wear your sunscreen. Harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun can get through clouds and harm your skin. Use a water-resistant sunscreen which will protect you from both Ultraviolet A-rays (UVA) and Ultraviolet B-rays (UVB). Ensure it has sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Apply sunscreen when exercising and even when going swimming and reapply every 20 minutes.

Reapplication is important especially when the sun is the hottest which is usually between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

3. Do not sunbathe

Sunbathing can have serious consequences to your skin. You could apply sunscreen but still expose your skin to harmful rays from the sun. Long exposure to the sun damages skin cells and can lead to early aging and skin cancer.

Use a water resistant broad spectrum sunscreen that has SPF and reapply every two hours, especially when you are in water. Stay under a shade and wear a hat and sunglasses if you have to walk around in the hot sun.

Ensure you wear sunscreen during the hot and cold seasons (Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash)

4. Avoid tanning beds

Using tanning beds exposes your skin to radiation that is stronger than the sun and this can cause your skin cells to mutate and grow into tumours that are cancerous and this will in time lead to skin cancer.

When the outer layer of the skin and the dermis which is the middle layer of the skin are exposed to too much radiation over the years, the skin becomes wrinkled and sullen and it leaves one exposed to the possibility of getting skin cancer due to the mutations.

5. Wear clothes that protect you from the sun

Instead of wearing traditional cotton fibres, wear protective clothing that have Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating.  Clothes with a UPF rating of 50 means that only one of the 50 sun rays reach your skin but the UPF is partly dependent on the weave of the fabric. A tighter weave on a fabric gives it more protection compared to lose one.

Covering up with this type of clothing will help you avoid skin cancer and painful sunburns as it protects and reduces your exposure to the sun by reducing the effects of UV rays on the skin. .

Wearing sunglasses will also protect your eyes and protect you from getting Ocular Melanoma which a dangerous type of eye cancer.

Check yourself

If you have a family history of skin cancer, lighter skin pigmentation and if you are exposed to extensive sun for long hours every day you should get checked once every month.

If you notice any itching, burning, bleeding and non-healing sores you should consider seeing a dermatologist as this may be signs of something serious. Check your skin everywhere even in the hard to see places that do not get any sun as skin cancer can also develop in those place.

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