Skin cancer affects over a million Americans every year. Someone in our country dies of skin cancer every hour.
It is critical that we teach young children and teens that there is no such thing as a safe tan. One terrible sunburn to a child under 18 can double their risk of skin cancer. The FDA lists ultraviolet radiation as a known carcinogen—something that causes cancer.
To help all of us be more prepared to take care of ourselves, the Dermatology Nurses’ Association and Coolibar’s founders Mary Mills Barrow and John Barrow have launched a Sun AWARE Program.
A—Avoid unprotected exposure at any time, but especially during the hours of peak ultraviolet radiation (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Check out the EPA UV index and be prepared.
W—Wear sun protection clothing, including a long–sleeve shirt, hat with a three-inch brim, sunglasses, and seek the shade. Keep babies out of the sun.
A—Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to all unprotected skin 20 minutes before exposure and reapply every two hours while exposed. Check to see that the ingredients include UVA protection, 10% Zinc oxide if it is a non-chemical sun block and Helioplex, Avobenzon, or Anthelios SX in sunscreens.
Adequate amounts are 1 once for adults and ½ once for children (about a handful is an easy way to remember) and reapply every two hours or sooner if you sweat or get wet. Remember to protect your lips, too.
R—Routinely check your whole body for changes to your skin and report suspicious changes to your physician. Check your skin monthly. Ask your health care provider for pictures to help guide you.
E—Express and educate the need for sun protection to your family and community. Promote shaded play areas.
Be vocal in your community that tanning beds are not a safe way to tan. In tanning booths, 95% of the light bulbs emit UVA rays which penetrate in the skin deeper to the melanocyte. In response to their injury, melanocytes release melanin and that creates the tanned look.
The World Health Organization makes a strong case for regulations governing tanning bed use, especially for those less than 18 years of age.
Let's be Sun AWARE!