- Healthy, Wealthy and Wise! Don’t Fry Day!
In considering this month’s “Healthy Wealthy and Wise” blog post, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that this weekend officially kicks off the fun summer months ahead. Knowing that most everybody loves spending a good part of this happy season having “fun in the sun” so to speak, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has declared that the Friday before Memorial Day, “Don’t Fry Day” to help encourage sun safety and remind us all to take special precautions to protect our skin while enjoying the outdoors.
Having had to undergo treatment for skin cancer myself, this topic has become a personal passion, and so for that reason, I’ve decided to devote today’s post entirely on this subject matter; besides like my dad always used to say…
“There is good wisdom in seeking after those things that will help you maintain good health, because after all, feeling well is truly one of life’s richest blessings!”
I grew up in the sun bathing, oil slathering generation; somewhere in between the “baby boomers” and the “millennials” (…a lady never really tells her age…) and prided myself on a developing a good tan over the course of the summer, despite the fact that I had inherited my dad’s fair Norwegian skin tone and developed a smattering of freckles over my nose, cheeks and shoulders as I was growing up.
My parents also bought a boat when I was younger, so many summer weekends were spent playing on the beach, but even then, pre-sun screen emphasis, my mom often warned me to cover up and avoid too much sun exposure. It was only as I got older and saw my dad undergo treatment for some pre-cancerous lesions that I started taking skin care more seriously–but as you can imagine, by then most of the sun damage had already taken place.
Safeguarding Your Skin From Harmful Sun Exposure!
Due to my skin cancer history, I now undergo a thorough skin evaluation at least yearly with my dermatologist, but even if you’ve been a sun-wise person, here are some common sense guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation that can help protect you against skin cancer!
- Seek the shade–especially between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm–that is when the sun’s damaging ultraviolet light is the strongest.
- Do not burn–even a single sunburn will increase your risk of getting skin cancer.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths–the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention warns us that tanning is never safe whether you acquire it on the beach or in a salon; research indicates that even occasional sunbed use triples the chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer!
- Cover up–including a sun hat and UV blocking sunglasses. Despite our ready access to good sun-blocking lotions today, clothing can be one of your most effective forms of sun protection. (I wear a funky sun hat and long sleeves when I work in my yard now.)
- Use products with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or greater every day, all year round–during the winter months and even on cloudy days, 70-80 percent of the UV rays still travel through clouds and overcast skies. Sun block should also be applied every two hours when skin is exposed to the sun.
- Keep infants out of direct sunlight–a baby’s skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives skin color, therefore babies are more prone to the sun’s damaging effects.
- Examine your skin from head to toe every month–including your scalp, under arms, hands, soles of your feet, and nail beds. Skin damage can be quite elusive and present itself in the most unlikely of places, especially as you age. Changes of any kind, such as a spot that is sore, itches, or forms a small crusty wound that never heals can all be signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
When unprotected skin is overexposed to the harmful effects of UV sunlight, the DNA of cells is damaged and can lead to change (mutation) of the skin cell.
(Although hard to look at, above you see: Basil cell and squamous cell carcinoma–crusty, blistering of a damaged skin spot that if treated early is a very curable form of skin cancer. Any irregular and oozing dark moles or skin lesions are usually a sign of melanoma which need immediate attention and treatment from a skilled dermatologist!)
The surprising rise in the rate of skin cancers found in young people, 20-30 years of age, has made the Council for Skin Cancer Prevention realize, more than ever before, that even with all the strides we have made in skin cancer research over the last several years, the public needs to be reminded again of the basics of skin care and cancer prevention so they came up with this unique and clever slogan:
Here’s to many sun safe and happy summers to come!
I’d love to know any habits or products you advocate for better skin protection!