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How to prevent skin cancer

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In honour of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we've come up with a list of ways to decrease the risk of skin cancer.

It can be tempting to try and soak up whatever sunshine possible, especially for those living in the United Kingdom. However, the sun is not just something which keeps us warm and tans our skin. It can also be very dangerous, so it's essential that we're all aware of how to enjoy the sun while staying safe.

This is important to remember throughout the year, though there is no better time to remind you than right now, as we prepare for summer and celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

While everyone should protect themselves against skin cancer, there are certain people who are more at risk from it and must, therefore, be even more diligent in protecting themselves from the sun. Those who fall into this group include those with a family history of skin cancer, people with naturally light skin and people with skin that burns, freckles or reddens easily. You can find the full list of those at risk here.

Read on to learn how to protect yourself this summer:

1. Stay in the shade

In order to remain safe, you should try to avoid the sun for prolonged periods of time. Instead, enjoy the good weather from a shady area. This is especially recommended between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. 

2. Avoid tanning beds

You are also recommended to avoid UV tanning beds or booths, as there are dangers associated with overexposure to ultraviolet light. Not only can the UV in such places cause premature ageing, but it can also significantly increase the risk of skin cancer.

3. Cover up

Experts recommend people ensure they dress sensibly, covering most of their skin including arms and legs. Moreover, they also recommend people wear a hat with a wide brim (to protect head, neck, ears and face) and UV blocking glasses. 

4. Sunscreen is a must

It may feel a bit greasy on your skin at first, but putting on sunscreen is a key part of protecting yourself from the sun's UV rays. You should make sure you use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher (preferably 30 or higher if you're outside for a long period of time), which has both UVA and UVB protection.

In addition, it would be wise to purchase waterproof sunscreen if you intend to go in the pool, swim in the sea or participate in any water activities.

Remember to use plenty of sunscreen and reapply every two hours. If you do not use waterproof sunscreen you should reapply immediately after you've been in the water or if you are sweating heavily. 

5. Check your body

It is wise to regularly check your body for any changes, such as new moles. If you do find suspicious moles or other changes in your skin it is always best to tell your doctor and have them checked out. They might end up being nothing to worry about, but it is better to ere on the side of caution. 

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