En light ened – Protecting Yourself Against the Sun’s Rays

Please take a moment to view this inspiring video about the risks of Melanoma. We encourage you to share this message of prevention and early detection with your friends and loved ones.

The Dangers of Sun Exposure

As the days get warmer and longer, we all spend more time in direct sunlight. It is important to be aware of sun’s potential effect on your skin. There are two types of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that reach the earth-UVA and UVB. UVA rays are primarily associated with skin aging, whereas, UVB are associated with skin burning. However, both of these rays elevate your risk of developing skin cancer. There are a variety of ways you can protect yourself from these rays.

Choosing Sunscreen

You should ensure that you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (my favorites are L’Oreal Ombrelle, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer and La Roche Posay Anthelios L). When applying your sunscreen do so liberally ( the average consumer applies only a quarter of the amount of sunscreen to get the true sun protection factor SPF as labeled on the package), choose a high SPF ( nothing less than SPF 30) and apply often (re-apply every 2 hours, or after swimming).

Protecting Yourself Against UV Rays

Remember UVA rays can penetrate cloud cover and glass! Sun avoidance between the hours of 11:00 and 2 pm is important, and clothing (including a hat) serves as an excellent barrier to UV rays. Don’t forget regular use of sunglasses to prevent any of the harmful eye changes such as cataracts and macular degeneration. As UV radiation risk for skin cancer is cumulative over time, you should continue to monitor your skin for any changes.

Types of Skin Cancer

The most common type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Cancer, followed by Squamous Cell Cancers. Fortunately these are slow growing lesions, don’t often metastasize, and can be treated with local excision or topical agents. Melanoma cancers, although accounting for less than 5% of total skin cancers, is responsible for more than 75% of the skin cancer deaths. Typically, these are irregularly bordered, irregularly pigmented and are greater than 6mm (Think ABCD –Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter). For a review of all these lesions please visit www.skincancer.org.

On a final note, the most sun exposed areas (i.e. face, tips of ears, forearms, balding scalp) are often a site of pre-cancerous lesions known as Actinic Keratosis. These appear as patches of red, dry, scaling skin that do not resolve with moisturizing cream. All of these should be treated due to their malignant potential. If you have any skin concern related to the above, or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to contact your Copeman Healthcare professional for review.