A giant mass of plasma – we know it as “The Sun” – sits in space, 150 million miles away from our home here on Earth.
Energy in the form of light and heat races from the Sun’s surface over a span of about eight minutes, barreling through our atmosphere until it hits the ground and everything on it. That includes humans, and in particular, human skin.
The skin is a human being’s largest organ, and it is susceptible to damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays. That damage show immediately, as with a sunburn, or years later, in the form of skin cancers or melanomas.
Protect Your Skin
Now that the Sun is shining longer and with more intensity over the summer months, it’s a great time to review healthy practices for protecting your skin from burns and damage.
- Apply with at least SPF 15 protection when you’ll be out in the sun. Putting it on 15-20 minutes before you go outside is a good idea. Plan to reapply every two hours, especially for children.
- Wear waterproof sunscreen if there is a chance you will perspire or get wet.
- Cover your whole body with either sunscreen, shade, or clothing. That includes the back of your neck and hands, the top of your ears and feet, and your eyes. Wrap-around sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are useful.
- On average, Buffalo has about 155 sunny days each year. The Sun’s ultraviolet rays are not completely blocked by clouds. Protect your skin on bright and cloudy days, year-round.
Check Your Skin
Check your skin regularly for noticeable changes and talk over any concerns with your healthcare provider. The standard checklist for moles and other markings is the A-B-C-D-E list:
- Asymmetrical: Is the mole oddly shaped?
- Border: Does the mole have irregular or vaguely defined borders?
- Color: Does the mole have uneven coloring or multiple colors?
- Diameter: Is the mole larger than a pencil eraser or is it growing in size?
- Evolution: Did the mole change over time?
The Food and Drug Administration web site has even more tips to stay safe in the sun.
Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and our Primary Care Center can be reached at (716) 592-8140 for appointments and annual checkups.
Kara Kane, Community Relations Coordinator
Board member, Springville Area Chamber of Commerce