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It's that time of the year.  The summertime.  Time for lots of sun, water and fun.  For most people the spring and summer months are the months they spend the largest amount of their time outdoors.  And there's no reason not to as long as you are smart about it.  Summertime is a great time to remind people about the dangers of the sun and highlight a bit about skin cancer prevention.

Think Protection for Skin Cancer Prevention

Although  the summer tends to remind us of the potential risk of too much sun exposure, sun exposure and its impact on our skin doesn't go away in the winter. We just aren't as aware of it during the cooler months. Melanoma is one of the most difficult and stubborn cancers to fight once it has taken hold.

It's important to be aware that sometimes the sun we get when we are young will impact us when we get old.  For kids and teenagers, the risk of long term impact is great.  Any child that is exposed to the sun for a period of time that causes a burn runs an increased risk of getting skin cancer when they are older.   It's important that skin care starts the first day a baby hits the sun.  It is never too early to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.  For babies there are lotions with SPF that can help.  In addition there are some basic common sense tips you can put into practice.

Covering is the easiest way to avoid the sun.  Wearing pants, long sleeve shirts, hats and sunglasses is the rule that most organizations involved with cancer and cancer research will throw out there for you to adhere to.  Remember, if you can see through your clothes, so can the sun.   However, it is not always prudent or even fun to dress like its winter.  Who wants to go to the beach with pants on?  In that case you need to use sunscreen.  Use it everywhere there is exposed skin and use it often.  Any time you come out of the water, anytime you sweat or any other reason it might have rubbed off, put more on.  Coverage is probably the number one key to skin cancer prevention.

Try to avoid the sun at its most powerful time which is, of course, mid day.  Although there are different guidelines on the hours the most common hours given are between 11am and 3pm local time.  During those hours go eat lunch or do something indoors. There is plenty of sun left after 3 or 4 pm during the summertime.

Remember that some people have a greater risk of sun induced cancers including malignant melanoma than others.  Those that were burned in their childhood run this risk as does anyone who burns easy, those who have freckles, fair skin or moles.  All of these individuals need to be diligent in their use of sun protection. There are some other skin cancer protection hints.  For instance, there are now children's bathing suits that have UV protection built into the fabric.  Try to avoid sunlamps and tanning booths since they both give off UV rays.  And most importantly don't forget to check your skin.

Checking your skin should be a regular part of your wellness plan and a great aid to skin cancer prevention.  Once a month you need to check your body for new moles, moles that have changed colors, moles that have abnormal symmetry and anything else that looks outside of the norm for you.  In addition, you should have doctor check your skin at least once a year as part of your overall physical exam.    Additionally, although there is no definite idea of the impact,it is recommended that you quit smoking, avoid being overweight and make sure you get exercise.  The impact on skin cancer and these things is unclear but either way they are important for overall health.

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