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(ASK DR. NANDI) – Sun safety is a critical topic for adults and children. More than 1.2 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills one person every hour.

Overexposure to the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer.

In fact, one blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer! Let’s discuss how we can protect ourselves from the sun and prevent this disease.

So what does the sun do to the skin?

The ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers to the skin called elastin and causes the skin to sag, stretch and lose its ability to go back into place. These are the reasons for the aging appearance of the skin. In addition, this damage also increases the risk of skin cancer.

What can we do to prevent sun damage?

Avoid exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Wear dark clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.

Apply sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 with broad-spectrum protection.

This type of sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays. If you have a sunburn, avoid any more sun exposure and treat the burn immediately. Children less than 6 months should not be exposed to the sun.

What are some symptoms of skin damage from the sun?

Early on, we see a change in pigmentation or color of the skin or wrinkle formation around eyes, mouth, and forehead. Also, we can see spider veins of face or neck or loss of color and fullness in lips.

Later, deepening wrinkles and forehead lines can be seen. Skin becomes leathery and pre-cancerous lesions can be seen. Finally, skin cancers are found.

Partha’s Prescriptions:

#1: Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest. This can help protect you from skin cancer.

#2: Avoid tanning beds. Your risk of skin cancer increases with the use of tanning bed.

#3: Examine your skin regularly. Early detection is the key for treating skin cancer, effectively.

#4: Protect yourselves. Use the American Cancer Society’s recommendation of slip, slop, slap, and wrap. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, SPF of at least 30, slap on a hat, and wrap on sunglasses. These simple steps can help prevent skin cancer.

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