Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From the Soapbox - Sun Safety!

With summer finally upon us I figure it's about time to drag out my trusty, dusty old friend - soapbox.  Yes, you know the one, it's a No Name Brand box of the suds (because they're so seriously nasty that I can't possibly use them on clothes so I'll use them to stand upon) that has housed many a rant over the years.

Today's laundry - the necessity of Sun Safety!  Wait!  Before you go, read on, I've got some stuff I need to say and you, the people (or at least the people who are reading) need to hear it.  Because as beautiful and warm and lovely as this sun is, it's also damaging, nasty and can, if not properly defended against, take your life.

While I'm all about being outside, getting fresh air and Vitamin D, I am also a very large advocate of being safe while doing it.  And not just for your kids, I see so many people (myself included from time to time) that put all the effort possible into protecting their children and then completely neglect themselves.  Newsflash: If you're not here, then what?  They need you as badly as you need them.  So be the adult, teach them to take care of themselves by taking care of you!

Now, I've never been a sun worshiper, while I covet the tans of others, I only ever turn tomato red.  And when the red, peeling skin disappears I turn back into a white sheet.  A dirty white sheet, because more and more freckles crop up.   So to defend against those freckles and those rays I've always worn sunscreen.  As have my children and does my husband now that he has me to nag the crap out of him he has a ready supply.

You want that tan too?  You're a lucky person who can acheive it?  Good for you!  Just please do it through a protective layer of sunscreen.  While any tan is actually the result of skin damage, any protection is better than none, and I don't know a soul alive, sunscreen or not who won't get a bit of colour, even when properly applying after 8 hours outside. Check out why you need it so much!

 - You'll prevent a burn - while we all know burns bring pain and can, if sever enough cause skin to peel and heat stroke, did you know that burns also bring you one step closer to wrinkles?  Wanna look 65 at 25 go for it, but don't say I didn't warn you when people ask how old your grandchildren are and you have to explain they are your children, and NO it was not miraculous conception
- You keep out the UVA and UVB rays, they aren't just a bunch of letters, those rays can cause cancer, more skin damage, moles, freckles and the above mentioned burns
- It smells really good (most times) and people will want to sit close to you.  This can also be a negative, if the person who wants to sit next to you does not smell so good and can't stop sniffing your shoulder
- Please don't use tanning oils!!!! They are just a magnet for those damaging rays and I've learned that any SPF less than 15 is useless!  It's only a gimic, you're not being protected from anything.
- Sunscreen needs to be applied in a thick (not blanketing but thick) layer to do it's job.  Make sure you've covered everywhere, and rub it in!

Something else you should know, while many types of skin cancer can be removed and people can carry on with their normal lives, there are other kinds that spread.  They spread beneath the skin to a persons organs and can ultimately result in a person's death.  That's kinda serious ya know.

When you're putting on that sunscreen remember to do a couple of things - check the expiration date.  This stuff does expire and once it does, it's effectiveness is decreased dramatically.  Put it on 15 minutes before you need it to work and before you hit the water.  I find around here since I'm kinda forgetful that I put it on in the morning after I brush the kids teeth.  That way it's routine, and often Beth reminds me.  If you're going to be out a lot or go out hours after applying note that sunscreen only does it's job for about 2 hours and you need to reapply.  Another tip, I filled a travel bottle of it and put it into a zipper bag to keep in the van so I don't have to remember to pack the whole thing everytime.  And also, if you or your kidlets have a skin allergy I suggest a patch test before you need it to work, this I've learned only because poor Bethany broke out to a bazillion kinds of sunscreen before I found one that didn't cause her pain.

Think I'm done?  Not so much.

Don't forget a hat, the tops of our heads while covered with hair can get burned too and for those of us with long hair it's impossible to cover your head with sunscreen.  So cover it up, because a dangerous mole or spot is very rarely seen on the head.

And, if that's all not enough don't forget to check your weather network or news' UV index rating for each day.  While sunscreen and hats can help prevent sun damage they don't stop it.  There are days when the rays are just particularly dangerous and staying in the shade or out of the sun during the peak of the day might be the best bet.

Something that I just recently learned is that your protection needs to extend to your eyes, year round.  So those sexy sunglasses, and those bug glasses (that I might have once made fun of on FB) are necessary, so don them with pride! And do all your buzzzzzing around.

Finally, everyone needs to be aware of any moles or beauty marks on your body.  Do a google search of how to know a good mole from a bad one.  They should have even boarders, not change texture (if they're raised they shouldn't become flakey, if they're flat they should become raised etc) or size, any differences should be checked out by a doctor.  Don't forget your ears, neck and back too - get a friend or spouse to give you a once over every few months.  Find a spot you're worried about?  Make a doctor's appointment, circle the spot the day of the appointment if you can't see it to show your doctor and be persistant.  It's not a big deal to have them removed and off is safer than on.  Just ask Corey, he's had 5 removed so far and while none showed up cancerous they could have, and we'd have caught them right away.

I know you hear it everywhere, but I'm concerned.  A friend of ours died from skin cancer related cancers and while I don't know that hers was caused by sun exposure, it could have been.  I don't want to take that chance for me, for my kids or for you.  I used to help run the sun clinic back in the day at one of my drugstores and it was amazing the things you learn.  Please note that I'm certainly not an authority and all of the information I've given you can be found on google, and there's so much more to say.  But this, at the least will get you thinking.

The best I can say is be prepared, do your homework and be safe.  Enjoy this sunshine and all the fun that can come with it!


Kami's Khlopchyk said...

Amen Ashley!

I am one of those people who tans like crazy despite how much sunscreen I am constantly slathering on. And I am one of those bug people. Everytime I look in the mirror now with my big ol' sunglasses, I think of your FB post and laugh at myself!


Angella said...

We are diligent with slathering on the sunscreen. So much som that the kids tell US that they need it on before we go outside. :)

Mama in the City said...

Great post Ashley! Last summer I became worried (obsesed) about a mole on my shoulder. It was in a place that when the sunshined it would get full exposure of the rays. Anyways, I did go get it checked out and all was fine..but you are so right to encourage people to check their skin for variances and change.

kim @ mommyknows said...

My kids spend a lot of time outside and I try to keep them protected.

I love summer, but have developed a sun allergy.

We joked last year on our Alaskan vacation, that you know you are Canadian when you take an Alaskan holiday and get a heat rash.