Is your family protecting itself against skin cancer? The CDC wants you to

Danielle Parsons with Joseph Zequeira. In 2014 Parsons discovered a new mole that turned out to be melanoma.

We know that summer means that you as a family are probably outside a whole lot more than during the school year. It’s also the time when you might actually think about using sunscreen, even though you should be using it all year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer:

  • Look at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index before you go outside. I put in the 78704 ZIP Code and found that today we have a UV Index of 10. What does that mean? DANGER. AKA Very High.
  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher. (Local dermatologists have actually recommended SPF 30 or higher to us).
    RELATED: KNOW HOW TO PICK A SUNSCREEN.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take as long as 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
  • Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage.
  • Skip the tanning beds. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside — whether sunburn or suntan — indicates damage from UV rays.
  • Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk  such as  lighter natural skin color, family history, a personal history, exposure to the sun through work and play, a history of sunburns, especially early in life, a history of indoor tanning, skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun, having blue or green eyes or blond or red hair, and certain types and a large number of moles.
  • Indoor tanning exposes users to both UVA and UVB rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer.
  • A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.

Skin cancer isn’t for middle-aged or older people, either. In 2015, we wrote about people in their teens and 20s getting it. 

One of the people we interviewed, Danielle Parsons, was 24 when she was diagnosed. “It really does change your life,” Parsons says. “Every freckle, every mole; it’s really scary.”


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