Outdoor Workers Should Worry About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in America. What looks like an innocuous mole or mark could be a sign of something worse. The condition can affect anyone at almost any age and skin color. There is a particular risk for people who work outside. Most cases of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, happen due to prolonged UV exposure from the sun. Therefore, outdoor workers must do what’s necessary for skin cancer prevention. These 4 simple strategies can keep cancer at bay.

1. Always wear sunscreen

Sunscreen may seem like an obvious solution. However, most Americans do not wear sunscreen. Only 14% of men and 29% of women wear sunscreen daily. And since most outdoor workers are men, there is an increased risk of cancer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. The sunscreen should have zinc oxide or titanium oxide, active ingredients that help block harmful UV rays. Since outdoor workers spend several hours in the sun, the sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours.

2. Take a rest in the shade at midday

UV rays are strongest at midday, and that’s a great time to take a lunch break. Make sure to retreat to a shady area or indoors, if possible. The same goes for breaks. Talk with an employer about sun safety and moving to the shade as often as possible. Even on a cloudy day or during the winter months, the sun can still cause damage. The more outdoor workers can take cover, the better.

3. Wear clothing that keeps you covered

Even a powerful, broad-spectrum sunscreen is not always enough for outdoor workers. The sun can still do damage over time. The best bet is to wear clothing that can cover the body and prevent sunburn. Wear long-sleeved clothing with a UPF factor built-in. Known as the ultraviolet protection factor, some UPF clothing can provide protection at the equivalent of SPF 50. Don’t forget to protect the eyes and head too. Use a pair of sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection and a wide-brimmed hat.

4. Stay hydrated

Spending hours in the sun can dry out the skin and leave workers feeling dehydrated. The skin has a protective layer, and moisture helps to keep this layer in place. Dehydration may lead to increased chances of sunburn, sun damage, and skin cancer. Make sure to keep water nearby. For outdoor workers, this could mean more than the recommended 8 glasses of water daily.

Sun safety means skin cancer protection

Skin cancer is the most common cancer but also the most treatable. However, many people are unaware cancer exists until the cells spread to other organs. Working long hours outdoors increase the risk, so these 4 strategies can help. Even after a long day of work, occasionally look for moles, brown spots, or marks that look out of the ordinary. See a dermatologist for any marks or moles that look suspicious.