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Watch That Sun!!

May was National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and as we head into the summer season, I thought it would be a great time to remind everyone about the importance of protecting our skin.

With more than 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer because it can spread rapidly throughout the body. Ninety percent of skin cancer is the result of exposure to UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds, and 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer by the age of 70.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It begins in our melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. A quarter of melanomas develop from moles. If they start to increase in size, develop irregular edges, change in color and/or start to itch, contact your doctor. A yearly skin check is recommended.

Always pay attention to changes in your skin. If you have a family history of skin cancers, prevention is key to get checked out.

Not all sunscreen/sunblocks are the same so be aware. Avoid a chemical called oxybenzone, which has been linked to be an endocrine disruptor when absorbed into the skin and carcinogenic. It is also damaging our coral reefs and has even been banned in some areas, such as Hawaii.

With all of the options out there, how do you know what’s good for you when it comes to sunscreen? Look for UVA (the aging ray) and UVB (the burning ray). Also, when choosing an SPF, professionals recommend physical sunscreens over chemical ones.

Chemical sunscreens act as sponges and absorb into the blood stream. Physical sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and refracts the sun rays and works like a shield. Look for mineral ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide minerals.

Enjoy your time outside, but remember these tips to help prevent skin cancer:

I can’t stress enough that skin cancer knows no age. We are exposed to UV rays 365 days of the year and SPF protection should be worn at all times.

1. Apply sunblock every 2-4 hours, depending on your skin type.

2. Seek shade.

3. Use protective SPF wear. A t-shirt only has a SPF of around 3.

4. Avoid tanning beds.

5. Protect your eyes.

6. Spot check moles and freckles.

7. Wear a hat that covers your face and ears.

8. Be aware of sun sensitive medications.

9. Avoid the sun during peak hours generally between 10 am and 4pm.

10. If you want a tan, get spray tanned.

For more information on mobile spray tanning or to find a sunscreen for your particular skin type, find Jenny Summery Ballard at Edge Salon, 828 N. Howe Street in Southport, 701-309-5580. Or find her on Facebook as The Busy Esthetician.

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