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Step 4: Protect yourself from the sun

Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Although repeated exposure to X-rays or contact with certain chemicals can play a role, sun exposure is by far the most common cause of skin cancer. Most skin cancer occurs on parts of the body that usually aren’t covered with clothing when you go outside—your face, hands, forearms and ears. Nearly all skin cancer is treatable if detected early, but it’s best to prevent it in the first place. Try these tips:

Avoid peak radiation hours. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is at its peak between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Minimize or avoid being outside during these hours.

Stay in the shade. If you go outside, minimize your sun exposure by staying in the shade.

Cover exposed areas. Wear light-colored, loosefitting clothing that protects you from the sun’s rays. Use tightly woven fabrics that cover your arms and legs, and wear a broad-brimmed hat that covers your head and ears.

Don’t skimp on sunscreen. Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor of at least 15. Check the label to be sure it blocks out UVA and UVB radiation, two types of ultraviolet light that can damage your skin. And because the ingredients in some sunscreens might degrade, check for an expiration date. Make sure your sunscreen is waterproof if you’ll be swimming, and reapply it regularly. And if you’re allergic to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), an ingredient in many sunscreens, choose a sunscreen that doesn’t contain PABA. Use generous amounts of sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours, especially if you’re sweating or in the water.

Avoid reflective surfaces. Snow and water can reflect much of the sun’s damaging rays.

Don’t use indoor tanning beds or sunlamps. These can damage your skin as much as the sun. There’s no such thing as a healthy tan.