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When the Sun Shines…….

June 13, 2013

Sunny Day

Wow, has it been a wet, difficult spring.  Much new seeding has washed out in places, there is standing water in almost all fields. The hay fields are saturated; taking any equipment into them to hay will cause ruts, tractors will get stuck…it’s a mess. Another very challenging year for our farmers.

Today, the sun is shining! Hooray! We need a stretch of good weather, let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates.  Now that we can be out in the sun, I’m going to remind you how to protect your skin from sun damage.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US; one in five of us are expected to develop a form of skin cancer in our lifetime.  I don’t think those are very good odds. There are simple ways to reduce your risk.  The easiest way is to keep your skin covered with clothes; long sleeves, long pants, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, shoes, socks…..

Okay, it’s often too hot to wear the long sleeves and pants.  Do wear the wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, though.  Besides the sun protection they provide, the hat will keep you cooler and the sunglasses make being in the sun more comfortable.  Besides, the squinting without sunglasses causes wrinkles, and who needs more of those?!

Apply sunscreen every day when you are going to be outside, reapplying every 2 hours to any skin that is not covered with clothing. Use a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, that has a SPF of at least 30.  Is that sunscreen more than 3 years old? Replace it.

Use enough sunscreen; at least one ounce. Rub it in well.

Seek shade.  The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 AM and 2 PM; if your shadow is shorter than you are, try to stay out of the sun.

Are you near water, sand or snow? they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun.

Don’t use the excuse of not protecting yourself from the sun because you are seeking vitamin D….get that through food.  Salmon, mackerel, sardines, many fish and seafood varieties as well as dried shiitake mushrooms and eggs naturally have high levels of Vitamin D.  Milk and some cereals are fortified with Vitamin D. 

Check your skin for signs of skin cancer.  Knowing your moles, watching for changes is key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.

Go to the website of the American Academy of Dermatology, under resources, learn how to perform a skin self-exam and download their Body Mole Map for tracking changes in your skin.

Enjoy this wonderful sunshine, but do take care of your skin and, to paraphrase Smokey the Bear; only you can prevent skin cancer.



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