Fun (and Safety) in the Sun

Melanoma, more commonly known as skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. This year alone, it’s estimated that 77,000 people will be told they have melanoma. Several factors help determine one’s risk for melanoma, yet few are as easy to control as one’s exposure to sunlight.

Harmful ultraviolet rays can reach you any time of year, which is why it’s important to constantly assess how to protect your skin from the sun. Here are practical measures nearly everyone can take to avoid exposure:

  • Wear clothing on exposed skin
  • Seek shade
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head and ears
  • Wear sunglasses that block as close to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays as possible
  • Avoid indoor tanning
  • Use sun screen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection

Following these tips will help reduce your risks.  One fortunate trait of skin cancer is that it can often be found early. Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot or a new growth (even if it has no color)
  • Scaliness, oozing, bleeding or a change in the way a bump or nodule looks
  • The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
  • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain

Should you ever suspect that a spot on your skin could use medical attention sooner rather than later, be sure to set up an appointment with your health care provider.

Sources: Cancer.org, CDC.gov

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