Mary Calvagna, MS
You may feel healthier with a bit of a tan, but your skin does not appreciate it. The sunlight that warms our bones and makes flowers grow contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage the skin.
Exposure to UV radiation from sunlight can lead to:
A dermatologist can check for unusual blemishes, moles, and other skin lesions for signs of cancer. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have regular screenings. They are painless and only take a few minutes.
This may include:
In general, it is best to avoid spending too much time in the sun. If it is unavoidable, follow these guidelines:
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Weather Service put out the UV Index. This is a daily report on the UV radiation levels in different areas in the country. Here is how to interpret the number:
American Academy of Dermatology
The Skin Cancer Foundation
Canadian Dermatology Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Alberta Provincial Cutaneous Tumour Team. Prevention of skin cancer. Edmonton (Alberta): CancerControl Alberta; 2013 Feb. 27 p. (Clinical practice guideline; no. CU-014). Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=48130#Section420. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Early detection and self exams. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Get in on the trend. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/clothing/get-in-on-the-trend. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 17, 2015. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Skin cancer: prevention. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/skin-cancer/prevention.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Preventing skin cancer. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed January 4, 2016.
UV index scale. United States Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-scale-1. Accessed January 4, 2016.
Last reviewed January 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
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