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Summer Sun Safety

Haley Kurisky
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Jazz Fest

Haley Kurisky (pictured, middle) with friends Reika Wong (left) and Damien Ng (right) at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen were a must during the event.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Although May is coming to a close, this doesn’t mean we should forget about the dangers that skin cancer brings. Two summers ago, I shared my story about skin cancer and sun safety in an effort to encourage others to pay attention to their own skin. As summer begins, I’m back to remind readers to pay attention to their bodies and skin - our largest organ!

Many people don’t know how early skin cancer can affect us. Often, it only takes a few bad sunburns in a child’s life to set them up for skin cancer later. Young skin is especially sensitive to burning, and re-application can be tough when kids want to be in and out of the water. Wet skin sunscreen may help stay on during sweaty or wet activities, but it’s most important that we take time every hour or two to stop what we’re doing and fully reapply sunscreen to our whole bodies.

Another lesser known fact is that you can get skin cancer in areas that haven’t even seen the sun. This is why it’s important to get regular skin checks by a dermatologist. Skin checks don’t take very long, and can completely save you if you don’t necessarily know what you’re looking for. Irregular moles can sometimes be easy to find, but if you’re used to seeing something on your body, you may not recognize that it looks “off.” Going to the doctor is never fun, but the summer is a great time to take your whole family to get checked when everyone’s schedules are a bit easier to handle.

There are a few spots that are often forgotten when applying sunscreen or looking for irregular moles or freckles. The scalp is one of those spots. This is why wearing hats is so important. Many of us wouldn’t necessarily put sunscreen on our scalp, but it’s a place that is very sensitive to sun and is very often unintentionally burned. Additionally, your hair may cover moles that you may never even see. (Side note: your dermatologist will likely look through your scalp at a skin check, and if they don’t, you should ask them to!). Always wear a hat when going outside (remember that visors don’t cover all parts of your head) and don’t be afraid to put some sunscreen along your part, an area that is very sensitive to sunburn.

Being outside and in the sun is a great stress reliever and a great way to spend time with friends and family, but it’s important to remember how the sun affects us. It’s easy to protect yourself if you make putting on sunscreen/skin protection a daily habit. Look for foundations or primers that have sunscreen in them so you can wear it under your makeup. Keep sunscreen near your front door so you can put some on before you go outside. Make a cute hat part of your outfit. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses and carry Chapstick with SPF in it. There’s nothing wrong with being pale - tanning leads to wrinkles later! Enjoy your summer and be safe!

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