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Summer Sun Safety
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. More than 1 million Americans are living with melanoma and an estimated 7,230 deaths are attributed to this type of skin cancer, with another 4,420 deaths from nonmelanoma skin cancers. Chronic exposure to sunlight is the chief cause of almost all melanomas, frequently occurring on exposed parts of the face, ears, neck, scalp, and upper back.
Your first line of defense is a good sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Spread a tablespoon over your face and another two ounces on your body 20 to 30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply after swimming. If used properly, two adults could go through a bottle in a day. Also wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses when outside.
African Americans and other people of color can sunburn, too. It’s important for everyone to take sunburn precautions and regularly check their skin for evidence of change in existing moles, freckles, bumps, or birthmarks.
If you notice a change, get to your doctor immediately. In fact, if you’re regularly exposed to the Texas sun, it would be a good idea to have your skin examined by a knowledgeable dermatologist at least once a year.
Follow these skin-safety guidelines:
- Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays; reapply often.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses when outside.
- Drink plenty of water to help replenish moisture.
- Avoid indoor tanning beds.
- Examine your body monthly for irregular lesions that are changing or growing.
Remember, prevention is your best protection.