“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.”
Although talented singer-songwriter John Denver is no longer with us, his iconic song lives on and continues to remind us of the spirit-lifting effects of sunshine.
But that’s not all the sun does! It nourishes your body with vitamin D. It boosts immunity to help your body fight infection. And it can help lower blood pressure and improve sleep. But the sun also has a downside:
There are more diagnoses of skin cancer in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
Some forms, like melanoma, can be deadly.
One in five people will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.
The good news: Skin cancer is largely preventable if you:
Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays (see sunscreen tips below)
Catch potential problems early
If you spend time in the sun, as most of us do, it’s a smart idea to get a skin check (also called a skin cancer examination) as part of your annual physical.
During a skin check, your provider will examine your entire body, and may want to recheck an area later if a suspicious lesion or mole is found. Or he or she may refer you to a dermatologist, who specializes in skin health, for a closer look.
If you ask for a skin check as a part of your annual physical, it should be covered at 100%. If you wish to get your skin checked outside your annual physical, there may be a charge. Either way, a regular skin exam can help catch any potential problems early, when they’re easier to treat.
If you would like to schedule a skin check or talk to a provider about a skin concern, the ParTNers Center is here for you. Call us for an appointment at 615-741-1709.
Six sunscreen tips to always follow
Sunscreen is a fantastic invention. It allows you to be in the sun for hours at a time, even without full-body protective clothing. Before 1938, when a Swiss chemistry student created the first sunscreen, that freedom didn’t exist.
Today, more than eight decades later, sunscreens have been improved and provide excellent protection, but only if you use them correctly.
Here are six rules you should always follow before venturing outside on sunny days:
1. Choose carefully. Make sure you buy sunscreen that:
Is broad spectrum, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays
Has an SPF of 30 or higher
2. Be generous. When it comes to sunscreen, you don’t want to skimp. Experts say the average adult should use one ounce — enough to fill a shot glass — to cover the whole body.
3. Apply early, about 15 minutes before you go outside. It takes that long for sunscreen to penetrate your skin and provide the best protection. If you wait until you’re in the sun to apply, you’ll be unprotected for 15 minutes.
4. Reapply often. One application protects you about two hours, but much less if you’re swimming or sweating. Here are two important things to remember about reapplying:
SPF (sun protection factor) refers only to the proportion of UV rays it blocks. So an SPF 70 does not protect you any longer than SPF 30. You still have to reapply.
Even if your sunscreen is waterproof or water resistant, you must reapply.
5. Don’t forget your… There are several body parts that often get overlooked when applying sunscreen: the tops of the feet, backs of the knees and heels, and the back of the neck, scalp and ears. Do a mental scan from head to toe to be sure you cover all exposed skin.
6. Respect cloudy days. You may feel safe on overcast days, but some sun still comes through. While you may not burn, UV rays can damage your skin, especially over time.
To lower your skin cancer risk even more, wear a hat to protect the top of your head (an area hard to protect with sunscreen) and face (where the skin is more delicate and prone to damage). And avoid being in the sun during peak UV hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Skin Cancer Foundation