Playing Defense against Skin Cancer: One of the Most Preventable Forms of Cancer

Summer is officially here! With more hot and steamy days ahead, it’s a good time to review the sun safety tips that will help keep the whole family safe whether they are enjoying the pool, beach, backyard or playground.

There’s no doubt that the sun feels great on the skin, but in our attempt to soak up as much sun as possible, there’s a tendency to treat Ultra Violet (UV) protection with a hit-or-miss approach. This is especially easy to do when you have squirmy, wiggly young ones who just want to play or hop in the water. In these instances, no one wants to pause to put on sunscreen or receive a reminder to put on a sun hat or sunglasses.

Sun Protection for the First Line of Defense

Without much fan fare, the skin provides an incredible level of protection to internal organs, muscles and skeletal structure. With such an impressive wrapper, it’s sometimes hard to remember that this living, breathing organism needs its own level of protection in the form of sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses. The use of each of these things can go a long way when it comes to preventing harmful sunburns.

Anatomy of a Sunburn

Similar to a burn you could receive by touching a hot surface, a sunburn can cause visible changes in the skin such as tightness, peeling, wrinkles and brown spots. In this case, the burn happens when radiation from the sun’s UVB (burning) rays penetrate into the skin. This causes changes in the skin’s DNA cells. One sunburn is not good but if the skin is burned over and over again, there is a greater chance cells beneath the skin’s surface could mutate and create the growth of a tumor. This scenario is so prevalent; one in five can develop skin cancer during their lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This risk doubles with five or more sunburns throughout life.

Building in Consistency

During the heat and sunshine of the summer, it’s easier to remember to put on sunscreen, but the need for sun protection is important year-round. Even on cloudy and cold days, the rays of the sun can burn and damage the skin. Year-round defense includes the application of a sunscreen SPF 30 (skin protection factor) or higher. On warm summer days when heat and humidity are at the highest, enjoy the sun before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the ultraviolet rays are the strongest. If your shadow is shorter than you that means it’s time to seek shade.

Sun Protection for All

  • Seek shade in the form of an umbrella, tree or pop-up tent
  • Wear UV protective clothing in the form of long-sleeve rash guards, wide-brim hats and sunglasses that blog 100% of UVA and UVB rays
  • Use a full ounce (the size of a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover the whole body
  • Reapply sunscreen least every two hours, especially when sweating or after swimming
  • Don’t dig feet into the sand,this can rub the sunscreen off
  • Young skin is especially vulnerable, keep newborns and small children out of the sun
  • Pink skin signals the beginning of a burn, brown skin signals damage

At Aspen Mountain Medical Center, our simple mission is to serve the residents of southwest Wyoming, providing the best access to multiple specialties from a home base of Rock Springs. Our 14 unique specialty offerings include anesthesiology, family medicine, gastroenterology, general surgery, and gynecology, internal medicine, interventional radiology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic, otolaryngology (ENT), pain management, pediatrics, podiatry and spine. Talk to your healthcare provider about scheduling a procedure at Aspen Mountain Medical Center, providing affordable and high-quality healthcare close to home.