Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk with Safety Tips from Atrium Health Navicent

July 7, 2021

Spending time outdoors is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress and have fun, but too much unprotected exposure to the sun can be dangerous.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, an invisible type of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your skin from too much UV exposure and lower your skin cancer risk:

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible, under an umbrella, tree or other shelter.
  • Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when you’re outside, even if you’re in the shade. Sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should be applied in a thick layer on all exposed skin. The higher the SPF, the more protection the sunscreen offers. Be sure to reapply at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. The use of sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 6 months old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that infants be dressed in protective clothing and kept in the shade.
  • Wear a hat that has a brim that shades your face, ears and the back of your neck. If you wear a baseball cap, protect your ears and the back of your neck with clothing, sunscreen or staying in the shade.
  • While sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts, they also protect the skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Wrap-around styles block UV rays from coming in from the side.

“If you’ve had three major, blistering sunburns in your lifetime – just three – you’re at an increased risk of skin cancer. Plan ahead by applying sunscreen before you leave home and don’t forget to reapply often,” said Dr. Paul Dale, Chief of Surgical Oncology for Atrium Health Navicent and Medical Director of the Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, Atrium Health Navicent. “If you’re concerned about a mole or another spot on your skin, see your primary care doctor. Moles that itch or change shape, size or color should be examined as soon as possible. The earlier we identify cancer, the better we can treat it.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit