Back in the day when Speedo one-pieces were cool, I had no interest in tanning. Although I fought through “sunscreen smear down” sessions with my mom, my skin was still, for the most part, shielded from the sun all summer long. It wasn’t until my friends started wearing bikinis and lots of Hawaiian tropic, that my Irish complexion got it’s first taste of sunburn. I quickly realized that getting the perfect tan wasn’t really in the cards for me…well unless I wanted to look like a leather handbag years later.
It’s scary how many times my skin has peeled, even blistered. I’ve accumulated many freckles, and one of them could easily be cancerous. At least that’s what I hear. Freckles appearing after a sunburn have been associated with an increased risk of melanoma skin cancer – the fatal kind. And even worse, it’s been estimated that nearly half of all Americans who live to age 65 will develop skin cancer at least once, according to MedicineNet.com.
Clearly we are all guilty of neglecting our skin for vanity’s sake. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy that bronzed glow? But ten, fifteen years from now, we’ll be kicking ourselves when the wrinkles, blotchy sun spots or melanoma develop.
So what can we do now to prevent further sun damage?
1. Always wear sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher, and reapply every 2 hours. Those of us who are fair-skinned, freckled, red-headed and blue-eyed really need to pay attention to this one since we are at more risk that our dark-skinned counterparts.
2. No more tanning beds. You know why!
3. Examine yourself regularly for abnormal skin growths or changes in existing moles and freckles. Self-examination can ensure an early detection of skin cancer.
4. Visit your dermatologist. It is recommended that everyone get a clinical skin exam annually, especially if you spot a new lump or mole.
I hate being a Debbie-downer before summer, but we need save our skin. So wear a higher SPF, go the self-tanning route — anything to keep that precious epidermis young and healthy.
For more information on skin cancer symptoms, please visit www.skincancer.org.