Get Healthy Carson City: Sunscreen is for more than just summer

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Sweater weather is here in Northern Nevada, or sweatshirts if that is preferred. Whatever your clothing choice, most Nevadans are pulling out their warmer layers and putting away the shorts and swimsuits, and probably the sunscreen, too.
But not so fast, say health experts. November is National Healthy Skin Month, a good time to remind folks that sunscreen, and good skin care, is needed all year long.
Taking good care of your skin is about more than just looking youthful. The skin is the body’s largest organ. It helps to keep fluids in to prevent dehydration and to keep harmful microbes out. It has nerves to help you feel pain, hot, and cold, keep your body temperature even, and even produce vitamin D with the help of the sun.
Practicing healthy skin habits can also help to prevent skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology Association has seven tips to keep skin healthy all year round, and four of those tips are about skin cancer.
In addition to having a simple skincare routine, choosing the right products for your skin, and not picking or touching your face, the experts recommend the following:
• Wear sunscreen daily. While most people need a few minutes of sunshine each day to help produce vitamin D, overexposure to the sun can do more harm than good. Sun damage, in the form of a suntan or a sunburn, can cause skin cancer and premature aging. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on any areas of skin exposed to the sun.
• Stay out of tanning beds. Indoor tanning is not a safe alternative to the sun. In fact, it may be worse. Exposure to a tanning bed’s UVA radiation increases the risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Try a spray-on tan or tanning lotion to get a sun-kissed glow instead.
• Don’t forget your lips. It may look a bit different, but the skin on your lips is just as important as the skin everywhere else. Use a lip balm to keep them moisturized and look for one with SPF to prevent sun damage.
• Check your skin for signs of cancer. A once-a-month skin check can help to find skin cancers earlier, when they are easiest to treat. Look for any moles that are changing or growing, new moles, or changes in the skin that look suspicious. An annual visit to the dermatologist for a full body skin check is also a good idea.
There is more that can be done to keep skin healthy though.
We know that smoking is bad for the lungs, the heart, and just about every other organ in the body. Did you know it can also lead to skin cancer? The American Cancer Society says smokers are more likely to develop squamous cell skin cancer, especially on the lips. And we all know that smoking can lead to more wrinkles, too. Quitting smoking now can help to improve your health and your skin.
Our skin does so much for us, it seems only fair to give it a little extra love during National Healthy Skin Month, and all throughout the year.
Nevada Cancer Coalition is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Nevadans and reducing the burden of cancer, in part, by empowering people with information and resources.


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