School’s out for students, protect your skin from the hot sun

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Congratulations to ALL 2017 graduates! We are so proud of you for completing this big milestone in your life. We wish you the best as you start a new adventure.

School will soon be out and it will be time to get ready for all the wonderful outdoor activities to come.  At this time of year, it is important to remember to protect our skin.  Here are a few great tips for sun protection:

• Slip on a shirt, etc. – Protect areas of your body with clothing during prolonged periods in the sun. Tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes are best for protection of exposed skin.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

• Slop on sunscreen – Always use a sunscreen when outside. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher blocks most harmful UV radiation. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin 20-30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days.  (Read the sunscreen label and directions before applying sunscreen to babies less than 6 months old. Your baby’s best defense against sunburn is avoiding direct sunlight).

• Slap on a hat.  – A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for your eyes, ears, face, and the back of your neck – areas particularly prone to overexposure to the sun.

• Wrap on sunglasses – Wear sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UV radiation. Sunglasses that provide protection for UVA and UVB will greatly reduce sun exposure that can lead to cataracts and other eye damage.

• Seek shade. Staying under cover is one of the best ways to protect you from the sun. Limit time in the mid-day sun as much as possible. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• Avoid sunlamps. The light source from sunlamps damages the skin and unprotected eyes.

• Watch for the UV index. The Environmental Protection Agency Website: has a place for you to type in your zip code and find out the UV index for your area and other great tips.

Why should you bother with sun protection? Avoiding sunburn is the single most important health education issue for skin cancer. Infants and children have the most delicate skin and the most years ahead of them to receive cumulative damage.

One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer; also is one of the fastest growing types of cancer in the United States. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body quickly, but when detected in its earliest stages it is almost always curable. However, if not caught early, melanoma may be fatal.

Melanoma begins as an uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells in the skin. This growth leads to the formation of dark-pigmented malignant moles or tumors called melanomas. Melanomas can appear suddenly without warning but also can develop from or near a mole. For this reason, it is important to know the location and appearance of moles on the body so any change will be noticed. Melanomas are found most frequently on the upper backs of men and women and the legs of women, but they can occur anywhere on the body. If you notice any moles or spots changing, growing or bleeding, schedule an appointment to get it checked. The American Academy of Dermatology reminds us that it’s as easy as “ABC” to remember how you can identify a mole or lesion that needs attention of a dermatologist:

• Asymmetry (one half is unlike the other)

• Border (irregular, scalloped or poorly defined)

• Color (varies from one area to another)

• Diameter (the size of a pencil eraser or larger)

• Evolving (changing in size, shape or color)

There are two primary types of nonmelanoma skin cancers; Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  Basal Cell carcinomas are tumors of the skin that usually appear as small, fleshy bumps or nodules on the head and neck but can occur on other skin areas as well. Squamous Cell Carcinomas are tumors that might appear as nodules or as red, scaly patches. These two nonmelanoma skin cancers have cure rates as high as 95 percent if detected and treated early.

Remember, before heading out-doors on a sunny day to protect your skin so you can relax and have fun.