Nurse's Notes: Sun Protection
Did you know a tan is actually a sign of skin damage? There is no "healthy" tan. The sun can damage the skin and cause sun spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Researchers agree that there are 6 ways to reduce the risk of skin damage and cancer.
1. Wear sunscreen or sun block anytime you are outside. Apply a generous amount 20 minutes prior to sun exposure to ensure effective protection. Most dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. Be sure to reapply every 2 hours. MDS provides sunscreen for all students to reapply, especially in the afternoon.
2. Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sun's ultraviolet rays are the strongest at this time. If you need to be outside in the sun, use sunscreen and other protective measures. For example, along with sunscreen:
a. Wear a hat. The most protective hat shades your face, neck, ears and has a wide brim, like a cowboy hat. If you wear a baseball cap, apply sunscreen to your neck and ears. Students are encouraged to wear hats while outside.
b. Wear protective clothing that covers arms, legs and trunk. A cotton shirt has an SPF of 7; a cotton/polyester T-shirt as an SPF of 15; a polyester/lycra surf shirt has an SPF of 35; and a denim shirt has an SPF of 95-100.
c. Wear sunglasses that filter out UVA and UVB rays. Both rays are known to cause damage to the cornea and lens of the human eye.
Other long term prevention and like style measures which can reduce the risk of skin cancer include:
3. Check your skin every month. Look for new growths or changing areas. Ask someone to check areas you can not see, like your back. Look for changes in color, thickness, size, texture, or border shape of all moles, freckles, and birthmarks. Any area that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, bleed or that does not heal, should be seen by a physician. If you have a history of skin cancer, see your doctor regularly.
4. Do not smoke. Smoking doubles your risk of developing skin cancer.
5. Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds are UVA radiation which causes premature aging, eye damage, wrinkles, and skin that sags, is discolored and blotchy. It also impairs the immune system. Long term users have an eight fold greater chance of developing melanoma later in life.
6. Eat a low fat diet. Fat increases your risk of all types of cancers
Remember to take care of your skin, so that it can take care of you!