July Injury Prevention

Summer sun safety

As the summer heats up, so also does the need for sun safety. (In reality, sun safety is important all year!) Utilize these handy tips in your sunny weather pursuits.

Important Sun Safety Tips*
  • Generously apply sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 which provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. 
  • Re-apply at least every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Avoid tanning beds. UV light from tanning beds can lead to skin cancer and wrinkling. Consider using a sunless self-tanning product instead.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging UV rays, increasing your chance of sunburn.
  • Check UV, heat, and air quality indexes.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

These precautions are simple to follow and can maximize your enjoyment of outdoor activities. Sun exposure over the life span causes serious skin damage and is the leading cause of skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors and Detection

Skin cancer can affect everyone, regardless of skin color. Although people with fair complexions may be at greater risk for skin cancer, people of all races and ethnicities are susceptible. Overexposure to UV radiation affects people of all ethnic and racial groups in the form of skin cancer, cataracts and other eye damage, premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.

Keep in mind the following risk factors for skin cancer: 
  • Exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is related to your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • UV radiation affects everyone and is present even on cold or cloudy days.
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • Personal history of one or more skin cancers
  • Multiple or atypical moles
  • Severe childhood sunburns
  • A fair complexion that burns easily

The good news is that skin cancer may be cured if found and treated early! Watch for these changes in any moles:
  • Asymmetry—One half unlike the other half
  • Border—Irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined
  • Color—varied from one area to another in the same mole; shades of tan and brown, black, and sometimes white, red or blue
  • Diameter— larger than 6mm (larger than a pencil eraser)
  • Elevation— the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface

Statistics on Skin Cancer

  • More than one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.
  • One in five Americans is estimated to develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • One American dies of melanoma almost every hour.
  • Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common forms of skin cancer, but are easily treated if detected early.

St. John Health System encourages you to practice sun safety this summer and throughout the other seasons of the year.

*Information from Sun Safety Alliance and the St. John Health System Health Encyclopedia

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