Summer’s here, and so is the Texas sun and heat. Be careful this summer as the months of June, July and August are when temperatures and humidity peak to its highest.
The skin forms a protective layer for all internal organs, a barrier to germs, regulator of temperature and has a special role to play in the production of vitamin D, especially during summers. Vitamin D is in turn important for healthy bones, teeth, lungs and immune system, brain development, cardiovascular function and fertility.
During summer, the skin is the organ that is most used and also abused. While you are out in the sun enjoying summer activities, extensive exposure to UV rays can damage your body’s most prominent organ. Damage can range from the less harmful age spots, wrinkles and skin dryness, to the more critical skin cancer.
Among all races, the risk of skin cancer is highest in fair-skinned individuals. This relates to the many white Americans who make the most of the sun to get a tan. This trend of getting a tan either naturally or through tanning beds, and the increase in sunburns have made skin cancer the most common type of cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime. With Texas hitting triple digits each summer, skin cancer is a high risk in Dallas.
With a daily care, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from extensive sun exposure.
- Stay under the shade during midday when the sun’s rays are the harshest.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses that have 100% UVA and UVB absorption.
- Wear a hat and clothing that cover as much skin as possible.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (even on cloudy and overcast days). Apply a fresh coat of the sunscreen once in 2 hours, and after sweating and swimming.
Monitor your skin for signs of any changes and skin damage. This would include:
- Changes in the size, shape and color of a mole or a spot
- Development of a new growth
- Changes in the way a patch of skin that looks - rough, scaly, or starts to bleed or ooze
- A persistent sore that doesn’t heal
- Changes in sensation of parts of the skin, such as tenderness, pain or itchiness
Early detection of skin cancer can help in its effective treatment and management. Dr. Peter Beitsch warns that tattoos interfere with the early identification of skin cancer as the ink can hide important changes that can indicate signs of skin cancer. “Sometimes when you cover up moles, the ink from the tattoo will mask changes in the mole,” he says. “It’s not common. But if you cover up enough moles, some of them are going to turn bad, into a lethal kind of skin cancer.”
So this summer, as you soak up the sun, protect your skin. Be aware of changes to your skin. Stock up on your favorite sunscreen, and protect your skin from the hot Texas sun.