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Forget the Tan: Protecting Your Skin is In!

By Kristy Warren

Skin is the largest organ in our body—and unfortunately, one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and sun exposure is a key risk factor in developing it.

 

As Ben Franklin wisely put it, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Cut down on your skin cancer risks by proactively protecting your skin with preventive measures. Brittany Wilson, a certified registered nurse practitioner at Mansfield Laurel Health Center, sits down with the Homepage Network to discuss easy ways to protect your skin from sunburns, skin cancer, and premature aging. 

 

SUN SAFETY TIPS:

Wear protective clothing: use a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and breathable, lightweight clothing. When reading labels, UPF refers to a fabric’s sun-blocking ability. Long sleeves and pants provide extra protection.


• Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB sun waves.


• Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.


Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating excessively. No sunscreen is water-proof; water-resistant sunscreens wear off after approx. 1 to 1½ hours.


Avoid the sun during its peak intensity: typically 10 am – 3 pm


• Even if you aren’t planning to be out in the sun, try using a moisturizer, primer, or makeup with SPF 15+ for everyday protection.


BUT WHAT ABOUT

Sensitive skin? Try using a sunscreen with zinc or titanium oxide, which are tolerated well even by easily irritated skin.


Your tan? Get that glow without the risk. Skip tanning beds and intentional sunning. Use a tinted moisturizer, foundation, lotion, or bronzer to give your skin a tan glow without the harmful rays and lasting skin damage.


A change in your skin? Don’t wait, talk to your family doctor about any changes in your skin lasting longer than two weeks.


SPOTTING SKIN CANCER:

There are roughly one million new cases of skin cancer every year. The three main types are:


• Basal cell carcinoma (pearly, dome-shaped bumps)


• Squamous cell carcinoma (rough, tender, red bumps)


• Melanoma (atypical or changing moles)

 

The most common warning sign for any skin cancer is a change in the appearance of a skin lesion or mole, such as changes in symmetry, color, diameter, border, elevation, or texture. Any change in appearance, bleeding, persistent itching, or crusting should be evaluated by a physician.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about your skin, call the Laurel Health Centers today at 1-833-LAURELHC.

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