Posted on May 25, 2017 at 4:12 PM by Doug Bolnick
SAVE YOUR SKIN FROM SUN DAMAGE
Many consider a tan to be an attractive feature and a sign of good health, but melanin — the pigment that colors the skin and shows off as a tan — is actually a sign that skin cells have been damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays. With longer, sunnier days ahead, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of too much sun.
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Skin Cancer Dangers
Although each person reacts differently, everyone’s skin can be harmed by too much sunlight. The American Cancer Society declares incidences of skin cancer to be the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States, with an expected 1-in-5 Americans developing skin cancer in their lifetimes.
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell (the lower part of the epidermis), squamous cell (the surface of the skin) and melanoma (begins in the melanocytes of the skin layer and spreads throughout the body). It is projected that doctors will diagnose nearly 90,000 new cases of melanoma — the most serious form of skin cancer — and an estimated 9,700 deaths from melanoma will occur in 2017.
In addition to cancer, excessive exposure to the sun’s rays causes irreversible damage like premature aging, vision defects and a suppressed immune system.
How to Protect Yourself
Avoiding the sun during peak periods (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in our community), when UV rays are strongest, is the best way to minimize risks of skin damage. However, there are additional precautions you can take when going outside:
*Please be aware that sunscreen expires within three years of purchase and should be discarded after the expiration date or whenever exposed to excessive temperatures.
Preparing for Summer Heat
In addition to dangers from sunny skies, the summer season brings excessive heat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that hundreds of Americans die each year from exposure to extreme temperatures, and that many more suffer through over-exertion and heat stress. Normally, the body cools itself through sweating. But when temperatures rise, some are unable to cool themselves properly and damage to the brain or other organs occurs. Take these simple steps to protect you, your family and your pets during a heat wave:
- Use a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher* on all exposed skin to protect against UVA and UVB rays. Please note that you should apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure for maximum benefit and should re-apply every two hours (more often when swimming or sweating).
- Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes and decrease glare.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and long pants that cover exposed skin.
- A person can be at risk of sun exposure, even on a cloudy day or when covered by shaded areas, so applying sunscreen is recommended for these situations as well.
NEVER leave children, pets or others in a parked vehicle. Even in the 70s and 80s, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly within minutes. Leaving windows open does not significantly decrease this rapid heat rise.
For more heat-related safety tips, please view the National Weather Service website.
- Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned location, whenever possible. To locate heat-relief shelters in your area, A list of heat-relief shelters in your area is available through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothing and choose light colors.
- Drink more fluids – do not wait until you’re thirsty to hydrate.Avoid liquids containing alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar, as these can cause your body to lose fluids more quickly.