Have you ever looked directly into the sun without sunglasses? No, right, because it is too painful. That is why you wear shades to protect your eyes. For those of you who have looked into the sun, the feeling of your eyes burning and watering is how your skin feels when exposed to the sun. Instead of crying, the skin gets damaged and this can eventually lead to skin cancer. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and it protects us from unwanted substances and harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, our skin cannot protect us from the harmful rays that the sun emits without our help.
According to Dr. Alan Peterson, a board member of the Partnership for Public Health, skin cancer is silently on the rise.The sun emits a special kind of light called Ultraviolet Rays (UV rays). When the light touches your eyes and skin it is called radiation. When exposed to UV radiation for long periods of time your skin gets damaged, ages, and can develop skin cancer. However, UV rays are not only emitted through the sun but in tanning booths as well.
“To help your skin fight UV rays it is important to limit sun exposure,” said Peterson. “If you are in the sun, wear sunscreen to prevent UV radiation,” said Peterson. “When buying sunscreen look for labels with protection against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen can be expensive and sunscreen alone cannot prevent 100% of UVA or UVB rays.”
In addition to buying sunscreen you can also use something you already have in your home, clothes, Peterson said. You can help prevent skin cancer with a combination of shade, clothing, and sunscreen.
Aside from prevention, knowing what skin cancer looks like on yourself and in your family history is also important. Below is a list of people who are at a higher risk of getting skin cancer and a picture of signs.
You have a higher risk of getting skin cancer if you:
- Have fair skin and red or blond hair
- Have light-colored eyes
- Sunburn easily
- Have many moles, freckles or birthmarks
- Work or play outside
- Were in the sun a lot as a child
- Have had a serious sunburn
- Have family members with skin cancer
- Tan in the sun or with a sunlamp or tanning booth or have tanned that way in the past