When you live in this area, it is critical to keep your sun smarts about you so that you can maintain healthy skin now and throughout your life.
Why Worry About the Sun?
Skin cancer is a significant health concern for almost everyone. One in every five individuals will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. One in 50 will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most life-threatening form of skin cancer. In fact, one American dies from melanoma every hour. With the strength of the Texas sun, that makes sun protection in Greenville critical.
With these numbers in mind, we should all take steps to protect ourselves from developing skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control offers several steps you can take to minimize your risk.
Avoid the sun, particularly during the peak hours of ten a.m. to four p.m. During these hours, the sun’s rays are most damaging. Try to enjoy outdoor activities before or after this window to limit the sun’s damage (and avoid the worst of the heat).
Wear protective clothing. A wide brim hat and long-sleeve clothing offer valuable protection against sun damage. Even a t-shirt worn over a swimsuit can be beneficial. If you spend a lot of time in the water, an investment in a long-sleeve rash guard can pay off for years to come.
Use sunscreen. You should choose a sunscreen that offers at least an SPF of 15 and protects against UVA and UVB rays. Use it generously and be sure to apply it before you go out in the sun, even on cloudy days. Reapply often – every two hours and after exercise or swimming. Finally, if the expiration date of your sunscreen has passed, or the sunscreen has changed colors or started breaking down, throw it out and get a new bottle.
Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds pose the same risk as the sun. The UVA and UVB rays they emit put users at increased risk for skin cancer and premature aging. No matter the time of year, it’s best to avoid tanning beds.
Keep an Eye on Your Skin
If you grew up in the Greenville area, it’s likely the Texas sun has already done at least a bit of damage to your skin. Regular self-examination for changes that could be cancer or precancerous can make a significant difference in the outcome of a cancer diagnosis. In fact, the five-year survival rate for melanoma that is detected before it has spread is 98 percent. That number plummets to only 16 percent for melanomas detected after the disease has spread.
Below is a mole map you can use when you conduct your skin-self exams. Record any moles or skin lesions on the map, using the picture guide to help identify anything of concern. When you conduct your next skin exam, pull out your mole map so you can document any changes between exams. Feel free to print this downloadable copy from the American Academy of Dermatology for your own records.
If you notice any worrisome moles or changes since your last exam, make an appointment to see your doctor without waiting. Early detection can mean a healthy outcome.
Greenville is a great place to live, offering lots of great outdoor activities including swimming and year round sports. Just remember to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s damaging rays while you take advantage all summer has to offer.
Photo credit © Hopkora via Dollar Photo Club