Bright Ideas In Sun Safety
Summer is synonymous with fun in the sun. But while the sun’s rays may keep you warm and lift your spirits, exposure to them also can lead to skin cancer. Left untreated, skin cancer can cause disfigurement. Melanoma–the most serious form of skin cancer–can spread to the internal organs and lead to death.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, but there is some good news: skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable when detected early and is largely preventable.
The Skin Cancer Foundation points out that “skin is a good record keeper.” Sun damage is cumulative, and too much exposure to the sun during childhood can put you at risk of skin cancer later in life.
The main culprit in the onset of skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Help reduce your family’s risk for skin cancer by following recommendations from The Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology:
- Do keep children under age 6 months out of the sun entirely. When outdoors, keep babies in the shade by using an umbrella, carriage hood or canopy.
- Don’t use sunscreen on infants under age 6 months.
- Do use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 on all exposed areas of the body.
- Don’t forget hands, ears, nose, lips and feet. Apply sunscreen a half-hour before you head outdoors.
- Do reapply sunscreen every two hours–more often if you go swimming or sweat a lot.
- Don’t spend extended time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The sun is most intense during this time.
- Do use zinc oxide on your nose and lips for extra protection.
- Don’t ever use tanning oil or baby oil. These products actually make the skin more susceptible to the sun’s burning rays
- Don’t be fooled by the overcast day. The sun’s damaging rays can filter through clouds and haze.
- Don’t use sunlamps or tanning booths. Artificial sources of UV radiation also contribute to skin cancer.
- Do wear clothing made of tightly woven fabrics. Unbleached cotton and cotton twill are good bets. Stay away from fabrics that allow light through, including broad weaves such as crepes and loosely woven straw hats. Wear dark-colored clothing, which absorbs UV rays better than light-colored garb.
- Don’t rely on wet T-shirts for protection against sunburn. Garments lose substantial sun protection power when wet.
- Do wear a hat with an all-around brim measuring at least three inches and sunglasses to protect your eyes from cataracts.
The best way to beat melanoma is to catch it early. Learn these ABCDs of melanoma and check your skin for moles often:
|A.||Asymmetry: One half of a mole is different from the other.|
|B.||Border: Edges of mole are irregular–ragged, blurred or notched.|
|C.||Color: Pigmentation of mole is varied and may be brown and black with red, white or blue creating a mottled appearance.|
|D.||Diameter: Width is greater than six millimeters–about the size of a pencil eraser. Also look for an increase in the size of a mole.|
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