Playing It Safe In The Sun

Weather Watch

It’s finally Spring! Even though we had a mild winter because of the La Niña weather pattern, it was cloudy and dreary a great deal of the time. A warm and sunny weekend seems to awaken the lively spirit in most of us, and all outdoor activities pick up at a feverish pace: gardening, hiking and for many Saline Countians, baseball!

The pace of the game, the thought between pitches and the strategy behind each play makes baseball my favorite sport. While I could go on and on about baseball, protecting yourself at the ballpark (and during all outdoor activities)is the focus of this article.

The bright star in the center of our galaxy (better known as the Sun) brings us renewed life and energy every year around this time. However, as Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers are now realizing, that warm glow we basked in for hours on end can cause serious, and sometimes life-threatening, consequences.

Ultraviolet light is the culprit. The UV light coming from the sun is a type of electromagnetic radiation, as are radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, and X-rays. Too much UV radiation from the sun can damage the DNA in your skin cells. If enough DNA damage accumulates over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer.

Melanoma and other skin cancer diagnoses continue to increase as the generation of people who laid in the sun soaked in baby oil and iodine (you know what I’m talking about) are growing older. Education about the cause and prevention of skin care have led to an increased awareness of what we can do to stay safe in the sun.

Dermatologists recommend daily use of sunscreen of at least SPF 30, hats or umbrellas to protect your head and if you are prone to skin cancers, long sleeve and pants will give you added protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Also, of course, it goes without saying that directly exposing your skin to UV rays through tanning beds is not a wise choice.

While all skin cancers need to be treated, melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

Enjoy the outdoors and this beautiful spring weather (I know I will), and be sure to take extra precautions while you play safe in the sun!

ABCDEs of Melanoma Spots

Take time to look over your skin watching for these signs:

A – Asymmetry
One half is unlike the other half

B – Border
An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border

C – Color
Color is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue

D – Diameter
Melanomas are usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but they can be smaller

E – Evolving
Spots are growing or changing in shape.