Summer Sunshine Safety

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According to the American Cancer Society, staying safe and having fun in the sun is as easy as “Slip, Slop, Slap® and Wrap!”

One of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in the United States today is skin cancer. However, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of facing that frightening word.  As we stand at the threshold of summer, many of us will spend appreciable time outdoors, whether working in the yard, going for walks, attending sporting events, or just soaking up the warmth of the sun’s glorious rays. While it’s certainly fun to get outside after spending the colder months holed up indoors, it is important to take a few precautionary measures so you don’t end up on the receiving end of a skin cancer diagnosis. Since May is Melanoma Detection and Prevention Month, the following tips help to shed some light on how to reduce your risk of skin cancer while still being able to enjoy the great outdoors.

According to womenshealth.gov, one of the easiest things you can do is wear protective clothing.  Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are preferable, as are hats with wide brims, which serve to not only cover your face but also your ears and your scalp. Be sure to apply sunscreen on areas of skin that are exposed.

Don’t forget the sunglasses! Fortunately, these are amazingly cool accessories to have and are a true fashion accessory that also work to shield your eyes from the harmful UV rays that can cause problems such as cataracts. You don’t need to spend a small fortune, either. Simply look for a pair that blocks 99% or 100% of the UVB and UVA rays.

If you crave the warmth of the sun, try to stay away from its rays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as that is when they are at their strongest. If you need to be out during those hours, opt for sitting under a tree or bring an umbrella if you are at the beach.

While that luxurious golden glow of a great tan may make you look great, in the long run, it isn’t doing you any beauty favors. Too much time under the sun can expose you to dangerous amounts of UV radiation, thereby increasing the risk of skin damage or ultimately skin cancer.

Above all, get to know the skin you are in. Learn self-examination techniques and when you discover new markings, moles, bumps, scaly spots or discoloration patches, seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is critical to keep an eye on moles that change in texture, color, size and shape, especially those with uneven edges or differences in color.

The American Cancer Society understands that it is not entirely possible, or even healthy for that matter, to avoid sunlight completely, and sums up a fun approach to enjoying the outdoor life this summer by promoting the “Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap” approach to help you avoid damage from UV rays: Slip on a shirt; slop on the sunscreen; slap on a hat; and wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.

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