Employee & Community Health

Remember to protect yourself in the sun

5/12/2016 by Brittany Rask, PA-C

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As the temperatures are starting to warm up, it is important to remember how to protect yourself in the sun. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, as well as the leading cause of all skin cancer-related deaths. It is on the rise, especially in women.  The month of May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention month. We would like to highlight a few items to be aware of this summer:

Factors that may increase your risk of melanoma include:

  • Fair skin, blue eyes, red or blonde hair, freckles
  • A history of sunburn
  • Excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
  • Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation
  • Having many moles or unusual moles
  • A family history of melanoma
  • Weakened immune system

To help identify characteristics of melanoma, look for the ABC’s.

  1. Asymmetry
  2. Borders
  3. Color Variation
  4. Diameter > 6 mm
  5. Evolution

If you are suspicious of any moles, contact your primary care team for an evaluation.

Ways to prevent skin cancer:

  • Perform regular self-checks of your skin
  • No tanning bed use
  • Total body mole mapping (pictures of your moles)

Sun Protection:

  • When outdoors, always wear sunblock or sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
  • Choose a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection
  • Use sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection
  • Avoid direct sunlight during the hours of 10-4 p.m.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing including hats
  • Wear sunscreen year round

If you’re interested in giving back to the community:

  • The Stay Out of the Sun Foundation promotes awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and supports melanoma research and education.
  • Join Stay Out of the Sun Run/Walk on May 20th, 2016 6 p.m. Lourdes High School

Brittany Rask, PA-C, is a physician assistant in Employee and Community Health's Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine. She has completed her masters in science and has a special interest in hematology/oncology as well as preventive medicine. She has been an avid volunteer for the American Cancer Society for over 12 years.