HealthLife

Sun Safety and Wellness

sun safety

SUN SAFETY AND WELLNESS

Summer is on the horizon and it’s time to pay attention. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Research shows that more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The number of people diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has risen sharply over the past 3 decades.
It is important to protect exposed skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays all year, even if the sun isn’t shining. Most people spend more time outdoors during the summer months, when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Although children tend to spend more time outdoors than adults, everyone is at risk regardless of race, ethnicity, or skin color. Chronic sun exposure, whether from natural light or indoor tanning, is the leading cause of skin cancer, therefore practicing sun safety at an early age is imperative.

THE SUN IN SIGHT

Fundamentally, we need light to see. Approximately 80% of all information we take in is received through the sense of sight. We know the sun can damage our skin, but most are unaware that our eyes are susceptible to just as much damage. Extended exposure to these rays has been linked to chronic eye diseases including cataract, growths on the eye, corneal sunburn, and eyelid cancer. It can take years before you experience any of the sun’s damaging effects on your eyes; however, if your eyes feel tired, sore and gritty after a day at the beach, skiing or boating, you may have experienced UV radiation exposure.

BEWARE OF CHANGE

Unprotected skin exposure, either from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds, can cause irreversible damage in as little as 15 minutes. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than 5 sunburns. It is very important to not only practice sun safety but also be aware of any changes. A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. Remember not all skin cancers look the same. Be aware of any changes in moles, spots or freckles on your skin.
Warning signs to be particularly aware of include:
  • Changes in color
  • Changes in size and thickness
  • Changes in texture
  • An irregular outline
  • Anything bigger than the size of a pencil eraser (1/4″)
  • Spots or sores that itch, hurt, scab or bleed
  • Open sores that do not heal within three weeks
What should I do if I spot any of these warning signs? See a physician specializing in skin diseases immediately. Do not overlook a warning sign because it does not hurt. A lack of pain can still be dangerous.

FOLLOW THESE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY:

SUNSCREEN
It is important to use sunscreen every day, even if it is cloudy. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and lip balm or lipstick with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply at least 1 ounce of sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every hour if you are swimming or sweating. Avoid using sunscreen products that have expired.
SHADE
Seek shade to avoid exposure to UVA and UVB sun rays. Limit exposure to the sun during peak hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM when the sun rays are most intense. Be careful around reflective surfaces that can increase your risk of being sunburned such as water, snow, and sand. Keep babies younger than 6 months old completely covered and in the shade.
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
Wear protective clothing including long sleeves and pants made from tightly woven fabric. Wear sunglasses that are made to block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, head, ears, and neck.
TANNING
Avoid tanning and recreational sunbathing, including tanning beds. Both can cause skin cancer and wrinkles.

HPV VACCINE IS CANCER PREVENTION FACTS:

  • The HPV vaccine prevents 90% of all HPV-related cancers.
  • The vaccine is safe and long-lasting.
  • Every year 14 million men and women are infected with HPV.
  • Everyone is at risk.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Practice safe sex, be smoke-free, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Women start getting screened at the age of 21.
  • Talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine and cancer prevention.

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