Health

The Skinny on Sun Safety

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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.

When you head outdoors to “work on your tan,” consider the following and take the proper precautions! We hear about skin cancer all the time and that we need to be careful, but we don’t always know how to do that!

We hear things here or there about how tanning beds cause skin cancer and often limit the cause to indoor tanning only. No one considers the sun exposure you catch walking to your classes in school or outside during P.E., and it’s easy to forget how crucial sun protection is in the daily prevention of skin cancer.

Remember these key facts:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • All it takes is a smart sun exposure strategy combining sunscreen, shade, and protective clothing to greatly reduce your chances of developing this deadly disease.
  • When in the sun, wear protective clothing, a wide-brim hat, and sunglasses as extra layers of prevention.
  • Seek shade, especially during the peak time of 10 am - 4 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Use extra caution near water, sand, and snow as rays reflect off these surfaces and heighten your level of sun exposure.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps. They not only cause skin cancer; they can lead to major skin damage and discoloration as well as deep wrinkles.

Think about the future you -- as you age, your skin will not be able to withstand that level of damage, and you will be left with discolored, textured skin.

And even if you’ve been good about putting on sunscreen all of your life, it’s still essential to regularly check yourself (and let a dermatologist check you) for moles or other marks that have grown or changed in color. Sun damage builds up over time, meaning early detection of skin cancer is important and can save your life

LET's RAISE THE BAR!

Only 14% of American men and 30% of women regularly put on sunscreen before heading outside for more than an hour.

7 warning signs

  1. Changes in color
  2. Changes in size and thickness
  3. Changes in texture
  4. An irregular outline
  5. Anything bigger than the size of a pencil eraser (1/4")
  6. Spots or sores that itch, hurt, scab, or bleed – Gross!
  7. Open sores that do not heal within three week

Did you know?

Extended exposure to the sun’s damaging rays has been linked to cataracts, growths on the eye, corneal sunburn, and eyelid cancer, so keep those sunglasses handy!

Please visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/cancer/skin.html for more information.

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