Friday, July 20, 2012

Soak Up The Sun...Carefully

The Delaware Valley was scorching again this week as we, like most everyone across the county, suffered through another summer heat wave. In addition to an increased number of walkers out in the very early morning, one thing I’ve noticed as the heat index continued to rise, is a larger number of people with sunburn…myself included.

There I was, enjoying my family vacation at the beach with my SPF 50 sunscreen, hat and sheer long sleeves; wanted to make sure I soaked up the sun very carefully. But what I didn’t realize was that an antibiotic I had taken made me more sensitive to the sun’s rays and I ended up with a nasty case of sun poisoning. Since July is Ultraviolet Safety Month, I thought this would be a good time to turn the blog over to my good friend, Dr. Philip Benditt, medical director of UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania, for some simple steps we can all take to safely soak up the sun while summer’s in full swing.

Dr. Benditt writes:

“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year - more than breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers combined.

The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. While risk factors vary with each type of cancer, most cases of skin cancer are caused by prolonged and unprotected exposure to the sun’s UV rays. So if you’re planning on spending time out in the sun, be sure to pack sunscreen – and remember to re-apply after extended sun exposure, swimming or perspiring.

Here are a few additional tips to help keep your skin protected this summer:

• Stay in the shade as much as possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most damaging.

• Don’t tan, either in the sun or on a tanning bed. If you insist on having that sun-kissed  glow, ask your doctor about safe self-tanners.

• Don’t rely on the sun for your daily allowance of vitamin D. The vast majority of the population gets sufficient amounts of it from a normal diet combined with only accidental exposure to the sun.

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block UV rays. Consider wearing long- sleeved shirts and pants, especially if you have highly sensitive skin or have had a skin cancer.

• Be sure your sunscreen is broad-spectrum or provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

• Read directions and warnings on all medications you take. Some drugs, such as antibiotics, can increase your sensitivity to the sun and make it more likely that your skin  will burn.

• Pay close attention to any changes in your skin, including texture, marks or moles. And  get yearly dermatological checkups. The earlier the treatment, the better the chance of full recovery from any form of skin cancer.

Whether you’re outside for five minutes or five hours, it is important to always protect your skin. Exposure to the sun’s rays can be damaging any time of the year. And don’t forget, everyone is at risk for skin damage - regardless of age, skin color or skin texture - and needs protection from the sun.”

Enjoy your weekend, have fun with your families and be sure to take Dr. Benditt’s words to heart…be sun smart!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the advice. I wish you could share more of your friendly and healthy skin cancer prevention tips, my alternative cancer treatment center will surely love and like this. Thanks and have a nice day!