Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!!

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Baby Banz encourages sun safety while in the sun

With spring here and summer on the way, it means more people will venture outside to play and work. Swimming, planting flowers, mowing the grass, back yard barbecues and other activities take place during the spring and summer months.

While the warmth and sun bring people outside, Baby Banz and the American Cancer Society encourage everyone to take caution and to protect their skin.

May is skin cancer awareness month. It’s a month used to encourage and remind people to take preventive measures while they enjoy various outdoor activities.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. This type of cancer can almost completely be avoided if people would protect their skin and follow simple guidelines when they are outside.

There are more than 1 million skin cancers diagnosed each year in the United States. That’s more than cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries and pancreas combined. And the number of skin cancers has been on the rise for the past few decades.

The vast majority of skin cancers are due to unprotected ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. Most of this radiation comes from sunlight, but some may come from artificial sources, such as tanning booths. The amount of UV exposure depends on the strength of the light, the length of exposure and whether the skin is protected.

The American Cancer Society encourages people to enjoy the numerous outdoor activities, but they want them to be sun smart and to follow some easy tips to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Limit Direct Sun Exposure during Midday
UV rays are most intense during the middle of the day, usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you are unsure about the sun's intensity, take the shadow test. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are the strongest. If you plan to be outdoors, you may want to check the UV Index in the area.

Cover Up
When in the sun, wear clothing to protect as much skin as possible. Clothes provide different levels of protection, depending on many factors. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts are the most protective. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through too. Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays. A typical light T-shirt worn in the summer usually provides less protection than a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

Use a Sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or Higher
A sunscreen is a product that you apply to the skin for protection against the sun's UV rays. Sunscreens are available as lotions, creams, ointments, gels and wax sticks. The American Cancer Society recommends products with an SPF of at least 15. The SPF number represents the level of protection against UVB rays provided by the sunscreen -- a higher number means more protection.

Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly. Always follow the label directions. Most recommend applying sunscreen generously to dry skin 20 to 30 minutes before going outside so the chemicals have time to absorb into your skin. When applying, pay close attention to your face, ears, hands and arms. Coat the skin that is not covered by clothing.

Be generous. About 1 ounce of sunscreen (a "palmful") should be used to cover the arms, legs, neck and face of the average adult. For best results, most sunscreens must be reapplied at least every 2 hours and even more often if you are swimming or sweating.

If you or your child burn easily, be extra careful to cover up, limit exposure and apply sunscreen. Do not use sunscreens on babies younger than 6 months. Instead, use hats, clothing and shading to protect small babies from the sun.

Wear a Hat
A hat with at least a 2 to 3 inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas often exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. A shade cap, which looks like a baseball cap with about 7 inches of fabric draping down the sides and back, also is good. These are often sold in sports and outdoor supply stores. A baseball cap can protect the front and top of the head but not the back of the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop.

Wear Sunglasses That Block UV Rays
Research has shown that long hours in the sun without eye protection increases the chances of developing eye disease. UV-blocking sunglasses can help protect your eyes from sun damage. The ideal sunglasses do not have to be expensive, but they should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation.

Avoid Tanning Beds and Sunlamps
Many people believe that the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give out UVA and frequently UVB rays as well. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause serious long-term skin damage. Both contribute to skin cancer. Because of these dangers, the American Cancer Society advises people to avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.