Even though sun exposure and family history can increase the risk of skin cancer, there are several measures that you can undertake to decrease your risks. Since multiple studies have shown that the amount of lifetime sun exposure is the number one risk factor for skin cancer, most of the preventive methods aim to avoid the damage due to daily sun exposure.
Obviously, avoidance of sun exposure is the simplest way to reduce the risk of skin cancer. This of course, does not mean living a nocturnal lifestyle. It is simply advised that if you are outside, you should cover exposed skin. For example, a hat can cover the face from direct rays of the sun in order to protect the face and the scalp. However, avoidance is not always a feasible option. Therefore, other preventive measures can and should be employed.
Often dubbed as the "fountain of youth," a properly selected sun block or sunscreen, used daily, is the simplest and most effective way to protect the skin from sun damage. It is important to understand the various types of products available to you commercially and through your physician's office in order to choose the material that is best for your skin. You may use the information on this website to make the appropriate selection for yourself or come in for a consultation to determine the best product for your skin.
Sunscreens absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, decreasing the penetration into the skin. Sunblocks reflect the sun's UV rays back into the environment and block their penetration into the skin.
UVB rays have been linked to skin redness, sunburns and skin cancers. UVA rays are associated with sunspots, increased aging as well as skin cancers. Historically, sunscreens and sunblocks have protected against UVB rays. Recently, sunscreens have been developed to also block UVA rays.
Values greater than SPF 50 cannot be substantiated with today's laboratory testing methods. However, SPF does not comment on the level of protection against the UVA radiations, although some products may have a separate star rating system for UVA protection.
No sun block or sunscreen is capable of blocking all of the sun's radiation.
The type of sunscreen you should use depends on your skin type and amount of sun exposure. For day-to-day use, an SPF of 15 is sufficient. If prolonged exposure to sun is expected, higher SPF's are recommended.
Although many cosmeceutical products are available in the market, few have demonstrated the ability to improve the risk of developing skin cancer. Our surgeons at Osborne Head and Neck Institute are among the few in the country to have shown scientifically that certain types of topical skin products have the ability to decrease the likelihood of developing skin cancers. We are one of the few locations that have this product available for our patients. For further information please visit our online store.