Happiness Means No Sunburns

By Sherrie Pratt

Having fun in the sun is no doubt pure happiness and is refreshing for the soul.

The sound of beach waves gives us a sense of relaxation and staying active keeps us energetic and healthy. And while the sun is your best source of vitamin D, did you know it can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes? Sunburns don’t make us happy, but even though they go away, the damage could cause problems downs the road.

Your skin needs to be happy too and keeping it protected is the key.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S, with melanoma being the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It can be deadly. Most cases of skin cancer are due to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds.

Dr. Rebecca Thomas, who works in Central Florida Health Care’s Dundee and Winter Haven Clinics, knows firsthand the concern. She was diagnosed with skin cancer twice and thankfully received the treatment she needed to heal. “I found out I have a family history of skin cancer, which means I have a higher risk. It is important to get an annual check-up due to this factor.” Thomas says being in the sun for an extended period, including when you were a child, is also a risk factor.

So how do you know if you have skin cancer? A change in your skin is the most common sign. If you notice new growth, a sore that won’t heal, or a change in an old spot, talk with your doctor. For melanoma specifically, remember the ABCDE’s. Is the mole or spot Asymmetrical? Is the Border irregular? Is the Color uneven? Has it grown in Diameter? Has the mole or spot Evolved? If so, get it checked out.

Mitigating the risk is not an arduous task. Dr. Thomas says there are a lot of people still not protecting themselves with sunscreen. Wearing a 30 SPF sunscreen is the key, even during a cloudy day. Make it a part of your daily routine, as the rays can penetrate through your car window and can even hurt you during a short walk outside.

Make sure to re-apply sunscreen every hour or hour and a half, especially on your children. Try to limit sun exposure by finding shade, wear a hat and glasses, and wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. Yes, the beach makes this hard, but long sleeve beach shirts are now in style! The sun is most extreme during the late morning and early afternoon, so avoid these times if you can, or be mindful that you’re protecting your skin.