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How Sun Safety Can Change Your Life

July 20, 2016 at 9:24 pm

July is UV Safety Month and it came just in time – surely you’re already feeling the heat! Right now, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States (Centers for Disease Control) with more new cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined (Skin Cancer Foundation). We’re here to shine some light on the dangers of excessive sun exposure and how you can avoid sun related skin damage – even on the hottest days.

It’s all about prevention!

The truth is, most skin cancers are preventable (Mayo Clinic). Although skin cancer cancer does occur on skin not overly exposed to the sun, most cases occur on the scalp, face, neck, chest, hands, and other parts of your body that have a lot of exposure to the sun.

Don’t get burned 101:

  1. Avoid being in the sun as much as you can between the hours of 10am-4pm when the UV rays are the strongest.
  2. Wear sunscreen all year. Take a look at this list of the best chemical and non chemical sunscreens of 2016 to make a safe choice for you and your family (Today Health and Wellness).
  3. Wear protective clothing in the sun. Here’s the test: hold your clothing up to a light with your hand behind it – if you can see your hand through the item, it won’t offer you enough sun protection. The more tightly knit the fabric, the better.
  4. Avoid tanning beds at all cost! More people develop skin cancer due to tanning than develop lung cancer due to smoking. Indoor tanning contributes to more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year (Skin Cancer Foundation).
  5. Check to see if you’re taking any sun sensitive medications. Read over this list of common sun sensitive drugs (WebMD) or contact your doctor and find out if your medication is causing phototoxic or photoallergic reactions when combine with sunlight.
  6. Check your skin. Take notice of any and all changes and tell your doctor.
  7. Protect from the neck up. Wear sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat. UV exposure can have harmful effects on eye health, potentially causing cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer. The sun is especially harmful if you have blue eyes.
  8. Be extra careful when around reflective surfaces like water, sand, concrete, and snow. They can reflect 85-90% of the sun’s UV rays. If you’re sitting on the beach in the shade, the sun can still reflect off the sand and up under your umbrella causing you to burn.
  9. Follow the shadow rule: when a person’s shadow is shorter than the person is tall, the intensity of UVR from the sun is more likely to cause sunburn (NCBI).

Not so fun, sun facts:

  • You can get sunburned on a cloudy day.
  • You can get sunburned sitting in the shade when you’re on a reflective surface.
  • As the ozone gets thinner, your chances of being burned get greater.

Check yourself:

The earlier skin cancer is detected, the more successful treatment is (Mayo Clinic). Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual skin changes like:

  • Mole like growths, or existing moles changing size, shape, or color.
  • Sores that won’t heal.
  • Red, scaly patches.
  • Waxy nodules.
  • Any unusual marks on your skin you feel shouldn’t be there.

Even though July is UV Safety Month, the struggle is yearlong. Enjoy the outdoors, but stay protected!

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