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Forget the Tan: Protecting Your Skin
For many of us, summer means fun in the sun: hiking, biking, gardening, kayaking, camping, grilling, and swimming. Spending time outdoors is a great way to stay active while safely social distancing. Whether it’s a secluded trail, bike path, creek, or your own backyard, take a moment to protect your skin.
Skin is the largest organ in our body, and skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and sun exposure is a key risk factor in developing it. As Ben Franklin wisely put it, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Cut down on your skin cancer risks by proactively protecting your skin with these preventive tips:
SUN SAFETY TIPS:
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and breathable, lightweight clothing; long sleeves and pants provide extra protection. When reading labels, UPF refers to a fabric’s sun-blocking ability. If you’ll be in a public place, please remember to wear a cloth face mask to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19. Your mask helps protect your community and your skin!
- Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB sun waves.
- Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating excessively. No sunscreen is waterproof, and even water-resistant sunscreens wear off after approx. 1 to 1½ hours.
- Avoid the sun during its peak intensity: typically 10 am – 3 pm.
- Even if you aren’t planning to be out in the sun, try using a moisturizer, primer, or makeup with at least SPF 15+ for everyday protection.
BUT WHAT ABOUT…
- Sensitive skin? Try using a sunscreen with zinc or titanium oxide, which are tolerated well even by easily irritated skin.
- Your tan? Get that glow without the risk. Skip tanning beds and intentional sunning. Use a tinted moisturizer, foundation, lotion, or bronzer to give your skin a tan glow without the harmful rays and lasting skin damage.
- A change in your skin? Don’t wait, talk to your health provider about any changes in your skin lasting longer than two weeks.
SPOTTING SKIN CANCER:
There are roughly one million new cases of skin cancer every year. The three main types are:
- Basal cell carcinoma (pearly, dome-shaped bumps)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (rough, tender, red bumps)
- Melanoma (atypical or changing moles)
The most common warning sign for any skin cancer is a change in the appearance of a skin lesion or mole, such as changes in symmetry, color, diameter, border, elevation, or texture. Any change in appearance, bleeding, persistent itching, or crusting should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
If you have any questions or concerns about your skin, call the Laurel Health Centers today at 1-833-LAURELHC (1-833-528-7354) or visit laurelhc.org. We have comprehensive safety measures in place to ensure we can care for all patients throughout the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Katie O’Reilly is a certified registered nurse practitioner at the Blossburg Laurel Health Center, providing complete family medicine care to patients of all ages. She fell in love with medicine at a young age and serves as a clinical instructor at Mansfield University in her free time to instill that same love and passion in new nursing students. She completed her nursing program at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, and earned her master’s degree in nursing from Simmons College in Boston, MA. To make an appointment with Katie, please call 570-638-2174.
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About the Laurel Health Centers
The Laurel Health Centers offer award-winning family medicine and behavioral health services for the whole family throughout Tioga County, including sites in Blossburg, Mansfield, Lawrenceville, Westfield, Elkland, and Wellsboro, PA. The Laurel Health Centers are committed to serving all patients regardless of their ability to pay, offering a sliding fee scale to ensure all patients receive the care they need. Services include pediatrics, family medicine, women’s health, preventive wellness care, nutrition, diabetes education, internal medicine, chiropractic care, sports medicine, mental health, dental services, addiction recovery, and chronic disease management. For more information, call 1-833-LAURELHC or visit laurelhc.org.
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Writing: Katie O’Reilly, CRNP / Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner / The Laurel Health Centers
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