Welcome spring! Time for short sleeves, flip-flops, picnics, and afternoons spent soaking up our fair share of vitamin D. Revelers beware, those rays of sun may feel good on our pasty winter skin, but if you’re not using sun block, you’re putting yourself at risk for skin cancer.
For some of you on the East coast, I know it’s hard to believe spring is here since you’re still dodging mounds of snow delivered by a relentless winter but really and truly, it’s time to plan for those upcoming outdoor activities.
No one is immune to carcinoma, not even Wolverine
A few months ago, X-Men star and all around tough guy, Hugh Jackman, posted a picture to his Instagram account announcing that after a “spot” on his nose became worrisome, he consulted a dermatologist who confirmed the presence of basal cell carcinoma. The skin cancer was removed and because of early detection and treatment, is not expected to cause further damage.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States, with 2.8 million people diagnosed each year. Left untreated, these seemingly harmless waxy white bumps or scaly brown patches, can slowly destroy bone and skin tissue.
The Skin Cancer Foundation makes the following recommendation regarding sunscreen: “Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.”
Cloudy Days: Don’t Let Your Guard Down
When the sun is beating down it’s easier to remember to lather on that sunscreen, but on a cloudy day people tend to forget. DON’T. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can damage the DNA in skin cells even when the sun is hiding behind clouds.
More Prevention Guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- Do a self-check examination from head to toe, every month. Look for moles of irregular size and shape, and brown scaly patches
- Apply sunscreen on exposed skin every time you go outside – SPF 15 or higher.
- Do not burn
- Seek the shade between 10 am and 4 pm
- Keep newborns out of the sun
- See your physician annually for a professional skin check
Moderate sun exposure has a host of benefits including vitamin D production, easing depression (particularly those who suffer with seasonal affective disorder – SAD), and improving sleep quality, but too much can have serious consequences.