Please protect your skin while spending time outdoors. I don't care if you think you look stupid wearing a hat covered in white lotion under an umbrella at the beach. You're going to look more stupid covered in stitches and scars after having biopsy after biopsy. If you want a glowing tan, get a spray tan.
This weekend kicks off summer and will be one many people spend outside at the beach, the pool, and in the backyard barbecuing. Work Monday morning will be a lot less fun if you are sunburnt or melanoma is slowly brewing.
According to the American Cancer Society, one American dies every hour from skin cancer. This year there will be 73, 780 new cases of malignant melanoma and over 2 million new cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers.
Think you're invincible? "But that will NEVER happen to me! I just need a tan for this party Friday night that the guy I like will be at!" I thought so too. Until I got a call from my dermatologist a couple years ago that one of those many moles I had removed the week prior was Melanoma 1A and more would have to be deeper removed.
I am extremely pale...it's like I'm Irish or something. People always have had a comment about how white I am. I never cared about it, but the comments of so many people made me feel like it was something I was supposed to be insecure about. The second I turned 18 I started going to tanning beds almost everyday. (In California, you have to be 18 or have parents consent to enter a tanning bed.) In the summer I would put baby oil on my body after reading on Google that it would make me tan faster. (It just made me turn red faster.) After about a year, the frequent tanning died down, but I would still go through phases of tanning the weeks leading up to various events up until I realized the damage I was doing by having my shoulder cut into and stitched up. Looking at that scar is a constant reminder of the foolish mistake I made and a daily reminder to lather up with SPF.
Skin cancer is easily avoidable. When outdoors, cover your body, spend time in the shade, and wear sunscreen. Be sure to apply every couple hours or after being in the water.
While applying sunscreen, check yourself for abnormal moles. Not sure what to look for? Follow the ABCDE method: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color, Diameter, and Evolution. If you see something out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. Early detection can save your life.
Please be safe this summer. Wear sunblock, do not drink and drive, practice water safety, and do not keep children and animals in the hot car!