My Pre-Summer Checklist: Skin Checks and Sun Protection

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Why this matters?
Because Skin Cancer is on the rise, and because it has hit us too close to home with our founder, Pamela Hill, RN, CANS, being a 3-time melanoma survivor.

Pamela has always said: “The best advocate for your skin health can be no one else but you.”

We’ve been over this a few times, but let’s refresh!
As the founder of her own skin care line, Pamela is also the founder, CEO and practicing Registered Nurse of the esteemed Denver medical spa, Facial Aesthetics. What’s more…she’s written books that are widely used in aesthetician training programs across the nation. She’s really seen it all…the good the bad and the ugly. And her personal story can attest to how serious melanoma can be and how important it is to detect it and protect against it. Is it odd that a woman with 28 years of experience in skin care got melanoma? Not when years ago the thing to do was splash baby oil all over your body prior to sunbathing. Times have changed. A foundational element in healthy skin today is SPF for a reason.

When Pamela talks to her customers and medical spa patients about sun protection and uses the words “wear sunscreen”, those words truly come from her heart. She doesn’t want anyone she loves, treats or knows to have to go through what she did. Her battles with melanoma have opened her eyes to a different side of skin care, one that puts even more emphasis on preventative aging measures, as well as taking precautions to care for your skin the RIGHT way.

Noticing changes?
Many of us notice changes in our skin. Especially as we age. Pamela urges all of us to do something about it. Maybe today is the day to do your first thorough self-check or book your first skin exam with your physician.

Did you know: One blistering sunburn is known to double your chances of developing melanoma later in life.

How does this happen?
While some cases of Melanoma can be genetic, most are not inherited and are a result of damage caused by UV exposure (sunlight). When the sun burns your skin, it damages the DNA of your skin cells. This unrepaired DNA damage to your skin cells triggers mutations that lead to the rapid multiplication and the formation of malignant tumors. If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat. 

Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race or gender. While people with fairer skin are at greater risk, following these prevention tips below are in everyone’s best interest:

Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin — even on cloudy days — year-round
a. Use a sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30
b. Use approximately one ounce of sunscreen (a shot-glassful) and apply it approximately 15 minutes before sun exposure – then reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating
c. Sunscreen is just one component of sun safety. Remember, just because you’re wearing sunscreen, doesn’t mean you can spend unlimited time in the sun.

Wear protective clothing
a. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
b. Seek shade when possible.
c. Remember that the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Use extra caution near reflective environments
a. Water, snow and sand reflect and magnify the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your chance of sunburn.

Do not burn
a. Severe sunburns, especially during childhood, increase your risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancer.
i. Avoid intentional tanning and indoor tanning beds
ii. Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.

Get plenty of Vitamin D
a. Replace vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements if recommended by your doctor – don’t seek the sun.

Be aware of your medications, skin care products and their ingredients
a. Certain prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs/products can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

Secondary prevention focuses on the early detection of melanoma. This includes both monthly self-examinations of your skin and yearly skin examinations by your physician.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Now is a good time to think of your game plan for the upcoming summer months and to ensure you are protecting yourself not only this summer but year-round.

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