Consumer Reports: Simple steps to protect yourself from skin cancer

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Simple steps to protect yourself from skin cancer: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on July 16, 2018. (WPVI)

Nearly 5 million Americans are treated for skin cancer every year, making it the most common form of cancer. It's also one of the most preventable.

But there are some easy ways to protect yourself and your family.

Consumer Reports has some great advice. Experts there are reminding people about 3 simple steps to avoid skin cancer this summer and throughout the year.

About one-third of adults in the US get sunburned each year and if you've spent any time in the sun, chances are you have your own sunburn story.

Sunburns can increase your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

"It's very important to understand that skin cancer is preventable," said Dermatologist, Dr. Maritza Pérez.

The best way to avoid skin cancer is to shield yourself from the sun's ultraviolet rays. The first step in skin cancer prevention is to use the right sunscreen and apply it properly.

"Consumer Reports recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients, such as avobenzone, and you want to put it on 15 minutes before you go outside," said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

It's also important to remember that sunscreen can't give you 100 percent protection, so the second step in skin cancer prevention is to always use clothing to cover your skin.

Use sunglasses to protect your eyes and a wide brimmed hat to protect your ears and the back of your neck.

Step three is to seek shade like a beach umbrella or a leafy tree, especially during mid-day hours.

The sun's rays are at its strongest between 10am and 4pm during the spring and summer and 9am to 3pm during the fall and winter.

And, even if it's cloudy, up to 90 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin.

"You need to prevent sun exposure on a daily basis because the sun is out there with you, and it's attacking your skin the same way it would do if you were at the beach," said Dr. Pérez

If you do get sunburned, you can't speed up healing, but there are ways to soothe your skin.

You can take a cool shower or bath, use a soothing lotion, take an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen and drink plenty of water.

If the burn is severe and you notice blisters, swelling or it's extremely painful, see your healthcare provider.

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