Getting Burned Doesn’t Get You Tanned-It Gets You Burned!

by Alison McIrvin

You are working hard, staying disciplined, and building healthier choices into your life.  But if you don’t take care while working out outside to protect yourself from harmful UV rays, you could very well find yourself fighting skin cancer.  Just in time for hot summer days and plenty of outdoor gatherings; July is National UV Safety month.

Stay informed regarding sunburns, skin cancer and the most effective ways to prevent it.


Photo credit Wikipedia Commons.

Photo credit Wikipedia Commons.

Some things you may not know about skin cancer:

  • Exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the #1 cause of skin cancer
  • People who tan easily and rarely burn are also at risk for skin cancer. Tanning at all indicates increased melanin production in your skin which can then become either non-melanoma (basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers) or melanoma.
  • Melanoma is the most serious and most aggressive (fastest growing) form of skin cancer.
  • People with fairer skin, freckles, moles, and are fair-haired are more prone to skin cancer and need to take extra precautions.
  • In the US, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.
  • If skin cancer is detected early, it is almost always cured: so watch your skin, know your moles, be aware of changing size, shape and color of areas of your skin.

Blocking UV rays is the first place to start in melanoma prevention.  Here are some easy ways to take action:

  • Cover up! Tightly woven fabrics that block out light are most effective.
  • Don’t forget your hat! Ideally, a wide brim hat also protects your ears, neck, eyes, nose, and forehead.
  • Use SPF 15 or greater to block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Make sure your sunglasses are UV absorbent rated to block 99% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid the strongest rays. 10am to 4 pm are the hours of the most intense sun.

Practice lifelong skin cancer prevention by developing the habit or regular skin self-exams. Immediately after showering and in a well-lit room is the best place. Regular skin exams teach you what is normal for your skin and helps you to be more aware when there are changes.

Understand the “A, B, C, D, & E’s” of checking your skin:

A = Asymmetry (one half of the growth looks different from the other half)

B = Borders that are irregular

C = Color changes or more than one color

D = Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser

E = Evolving; this means the growth changes in size, shape, symptoms (itching, tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or shades of color

See your doctor right away if you have any of these signs.

Stay fit, healthy, and stay safe out in the sun!

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