More than one million Americans are diagnosed each year with skin cancer, the most common form of cancer.
When diagnosed early, skin cancer can be cured. Therefore, it’s important to recognize any changes in your skin
and find out the extent of UV damage present in your skin in order to take the necessary precautions. Read below
for more information on what effects the sun has on the skin, and what you can do to protect yourself:
The sun’s rays contain ultraviolet radiation that can damage our skin. Ultraviolet A (UVA)
is primarily responsible for premature aging, wrinkles and tanning, while Ultraviolet B (UVB),
known as the “burning” ray, causes sunburns. Both types can damage the skin and can cause
skin cancer. There is no “safe” UV ray. These harmful rays are more intense in the summer,
at higher altitudes and closer to the equator. However, even on cloudy days, UV radiation
reaches the earth and can cause skin damage.
1. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and
sunglasses. Also apply a sunscreen daily, minimum of SPF 30 for exposed areas.
2. Seek shade when appropriate, the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm.
3. Protect children from sun exposure by playing in the shade, using protective clothing
and applying sunscreen.
4. Use extra caution near water, snow and sand because they reflect the damaging rays
of sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
5. Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.
Don’t seek the sun.
6. Avoid tanning beds. UV light from the sun and tanning beds can cause cancer and
wrinkling. If you like to look like you’ve been in the sun, consider using a sunless
self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
The UV Index provides information to help plan outdoor activities and avoid overexposure to
the sun. It is a national service that forecasts the amount of ultraviolet radiation expected to
reach the earth’s surface. The UV Index is reported as a number ranging from 1 to 11+. The higher
the index, the greater the risk of overexposure to UV radiation.
|UV INDEX NUMBER||EXPOSURE LEVEL|
|2 or Less||Low|
1. SUNBURN: To prevent sunburn, sun protection is required year round. Snow reflects up
to 80% of the sun’s rays, causing sunburn & damage to uncovered skin.
2. TANNING: Often mistaken as a sign of good health, a tan actually means the skin has
been injured. A tan develops as the skin is trying to protect itself from exposure to UVA
rays, by producing more melanin, the substance that gives skin its color. Indoor tanning
is not a safe alternative.
3. AGING: Without adequate sun protection, people who spend lots of time outdoors often
develop tough, leathery skin that makes them look older than their actual age. Large
freckles called “age spots”, and scaly growths known as actinic keratoses, which are
considered the earliest stage of skin cancer, are common without sufficient sun protection.
4. WRINKLES: Directly related to sun exposure, they are primarily cause by UVA rays.
Wrinkles can be intensified by smoking.
5. SKIN CANCER: The face, neck, ears, forearms and hands are the most common places
to find skin cancer. The most common types of skin cancer are listed below. All have
the potential of being cured when caught early.
– Basal Cell Carcinoma usually develops on the face, ears, nose and around the mouth. It
can start out as a red patch or shiny bump that is pink, red or white.
– Squamous Cell Carcinoma usually appears as a scaly patch or raised, warty growth.
– Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It usually looks like a dark brown
or black mole-like patch with irregular edges; sometimes it has shades of red, blue or
white. If ignored, it spreads throughout the body and can be fatal.
6. ALLERGIC REACTIONS: Bumps, hives, blisters or red blotches are the most common signs
of a sun allergy, or photoallergic dermatitis. It may occur while taking certain medications
too. If this occurs, consult a dermatologist.
7. IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPRESSION AND DISEASES: Sun exposure can damage the immune
system, making the body more susceptible to infections and cancers. Some diseases may
worsen, including cold sores and lupus erythematosus. Long-term exposure can cause
cataracts, a gradual clouding of the lens in the eye.