Get healthy, Carson City: Follow the five S’s to combat skin cancer
The season of the sun is upon us. If you are festering from all this sequestering, you are probably thinking it is time to break out of isolation and enjoy the beauty of Northern Nevada’s outdoor pageant. May is Skin Cancer Awareness month.
Before you head out to the hills, I would like to impart some important information about skin cancer and how to be Sun Smart this year. Did you know skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? It is also one of the most preventable. So, let us look at what we can do to combat the negative effects of the sun in our daily lives.
Here at the Nevada Cancer Coalition, we know the best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays in the first place. That is why we love teaching the Five S’s for sun safety to help Nevadans enjoy the outdoors.
- SLIP on sun protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt.
- SLOP on broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater and reapply every two hours.
- SLAP on a wide-brimmed hat.
- SEEK shade.
- SLIDE on those UV-protective sunglasses!
Damage from exposure to UV rays builds up over time, so sun protection should start at an early age. The two most common types of skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are highly curable. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is much more dangerous. Bad sunburns at any time, and especially during childhood, increase melanoma risk. So does a family history of melanoma, so try to learn more about your family’s history with skin cancer. If you notice a suspicious spot on your body – a spot that has changed in size or become darker – contact your health care provider for an appointment.
Although no sunscreen can protect you 100%, look for a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. A sunscreen that is labeled “broad-spectrum” or “multi-spectrum” means the sunscreen protects against not only UVB rays (this is the kind that causes sunburns), but also UVA rays (these are the rays that contribute to signs of aging such as wrinkles and brown sports). And remember, no sunscreen is waterproof. Some sunscreens can be water-resistant to withstand water and sweat, but they need to be reapplied often.
The rule of thumb is to put on sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside, and then again at least every two hours. Reapply sunscreen immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating. And the more sunscreen, the better – slop and slather it on.
If you think hopping in an indoor tanning bed might be a safe way to get some color, think again. Every time you tan, even in a tanning bed, you increase your risk of getting skin cancer. If you are a parent, please educate your kids about the dangers of tanning. Children may be more receptive to these messages than teens, so start the conversation early before they start dangerous habits.
Have fun, be safe, and follow the Five S’s. For more information on skin cancer prevention and early detection, visit us at http://www.NevadaCancerCoalition.org/Sun-Smart-Nevada.
For additional resources and information about Carson City Health and Human Services programs and services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Twitter @CCHealthEd, “Like” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs, follow us Instagram @gethealthycarsoncity, call us at (775) 887-2190, or visit us at 900 E. Long St., in Carson City.