Summer is officially here. Bright, sunny days call you to come outside and play! The warm sunshine feels so good after being cold all winter. Our bodies do need exposure to the sun to produce Vitamin D, but too much exposure is dangerous. The dangerous part of sunshine is UV radiation.
The damage caused by UV rays is cumulative. Worse, the UV rays are always there during daylight hours, regardless of whether it is sunny or not.
Did you know that UV rays can penetrate cloud cover?
When you are out in the winter, the UV rays get you twice. Once from above, then again when they reflect off the snow (if you live in a snowy area). The same with water and sand by lakes, rivers, and oceans, leading to some spectacular sunburns.
Every time you step outside, your body is being bombarded by UV radiation!
Even just out walking the dog, going to the mailbox, or walking to and from the car when going to work. It all adds up. Over time, it causes wrinkles, leathery skin, and dark spots. It can also cause skin cancer.
But it is nothing to be afraid of. There are ways to protect yourself.
The best way to avoid skin cancer is to minimize your exposure to the UV rays as much as possible.
Here are some suggestions for protecting yourself and your family from the harmful effects of the sun:
- Avoid being in direct sunlight as much as possible. The sun is strongest from 10 am to 2 pm. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends seeking shade between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
Umbrellas aren’t just for rain! They work great for providing portable, moving shade.
- Locate your children’s sandbox, swing set, and other yard play equipment in shady areas.
- Infants under 6 months of age should not be in the sun. Their delicate skin should be covered in light clothing. They should also have a hat and eye protection.
Having a sunshade on the stroller is also recommended to protect hands and face.
- Sunscreen is your friend! But check the labels carefully to ensure you are getting adequate coverage. The sunscreen you choose should be broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) and have an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of 15 or higher. If you are going to get wet, choose a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- About a half-hour before you go outside, apply sunscreen liberally (approximately 1 oz) to your whole body. You will need to reapply every 2 hours or whenever you come out of the water if you are getting wet. Water-resistant sunscreen is only good for about 40-80 minutes.
Even though you are in the water, you can still get sunburned.
- Be sure to talk to the babysitter, grandparents, or other people in charge of your children when you aren’t around about your sun protection routine so they are aware of the measures needed to keep your children safe when they are in the sun.
Unlike some cancers, there is no blood test to detect skin cancer.
It is recommended to do a visual self-exam every month to look for abnormal skin growths and to see a dermatologist once a year. Once cancer has been detected, a doctor will use blood tests to gauge certain things happening in the body before embarking on treatment.
Our staff here at IPE Screening hopes to never see you for that reason, but we are here to help with all your lab testing needs.
Please protect yourself as much as possible from the harmful effects of the UVA/UVB rays of the sun so you don’t need those cancer screenings from us. We would much rather see you yearly to help you keep track of your healthy numbers!