Protect the Skin You Are In
Michelle Shriner, RN, BSN, OCN | 05.30.14
Do you know what the most preventable form of cancer is? Every day you can watch the news and see how Americans are concerned about how their lifestyle choices affect their health risks. However, when it comes down to our daily routines and activities, we often fail to simply protect ourselves from the sun and the risk of skin cancer.
We all need a little sun for things such as Vitamin D production, energy, and growth of our plants and crops. I am sure you’ve likely noticed a change in your mood since the cold winter months and rainy days of April have passed. However too much of a good thing can be bad for your health. Skin cancer is caused by damage to the cells in our skin from the UV radiation generated by the sun. This damage can change the genetic makeup of the skin cells and cause them to mutate.
Ultraviolet radiation contains three types of rays. UVA is the most common type of sun ray. It causes premature skin aging and wrinkles. UVA rays are used in tanning beds and changes the color of the skin giving a false sense of protection from the sun. UVB rays are the source of sunburns and the primary cause of melanoma. Most of the UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer however enough reach the earth to cause permanent damage to your skin. UVC rays are the most dangerous fortunately these rays are blocked by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth’s surface.
The key to protecting your skin is providing it with several forms of protection. Even individuals with darker complexions benefit from protecting their skin. Individuals with darker complexions may not have noticeable damage to their skin however the damage still occurs. The American Cancer Society suggests that you “Slip on a shirt. Slop on sunscreen. Slap on a hat. Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes.”
Each of these levels of protection can save your skin from the sun. It is also important to think of your surroundings and if you are sitting pool side or on the beach remember to reapply sunscreen after getting wet and every two hours. The reflection of the UV rays off the waters surface can increase your risk of sun damage. However when they are used together they provide the best protection. Remember to slip, slop, slap, and wrap.
Michelle Shriner, RN, BSN, OCN is the Oncology Nurse Navigator at WellSpan’s Adams Cancer Center in Gettysburg