Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Be Sensible in the Sun

After a bout of hot and dreadful weather, it occured to me that sense in the sun is really important.

Sunrays are harmful to the skin. The natural pigment in our skin, melanin, gives protection from these damaging rays, but most often it isn't enough. UVB rays may cause skin cancer and UVA rays damage the skin causing women's worst enemies, wrinkles, saggings and premature aging. Scared or not?!! So I can't fathom why year after year people walk into the pharmacy asking for sunburn relief after being half-baked and cooked-lobster-red. Don't they ever get it?

Therefore it is important for us to know that the UVA and UVB rays are strongest and most dangerous from around 10am to 3pm, and say you want to paint that gate or swing at that time. Clouds do not block out the rays and white surfaces such as the snow, sand and cement reflect sunlight and increase your exposure to the rays. Sunlight go through water and can burn you while you swim. And sometimes when the weather is cool here but forecast at 28 degree Celsius, we can still get sunburn.

You are at risk if you have fair (like me) or sensitive skin. Skin cancer in adults is usually related to the amount of exposure to UVA and UVB rays during childhood. Die, I cycled so much then most people called me 'Malai Kai' (Malay chicken). So mums, do like us Aussie do for your kids. SLIP SLOP SLAP!

SLIP on sun protection clothing.
SLOP on a SPF 30+ sunscreen, and reapply as needed.
SLAP on a hat.

And of course, slide on the coolest pair of sunnies. Also drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, and check with your doctor for some medications that may cause adverse reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight. For a niece of mine whose taking some acne medication (yes, you!) keep this in mind ok?

In general, have your skin checked yearly for sun damage. There may be signs and symptoms like:

Melanoma - most dangerous skin cancer. Usually curable if treated early. It appears as a new spot, freckle or mole that changes in colour, shape or size. It usually has an irregular outline and spots different colours, and may grow over weeks to months in all parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) - can spread to other parts of the body if not treated and appears as a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed or form an ulcer.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) - most common and least dangerous, it appears red or pale and looks like a sore that doesn't heal, or heals and then breaks down again. Usually found on the head, neck and upper body.

Sunspots - red, flat and scaling areas which may sting if scratched and is a warning sign you are prone to skin cancer, mostly in middle age people.

So, if you have any of the symptoms above, best get it checked out at your doc's.

Disclaimer: This information is not to be used as medical advice or substituted for treatment by your health care provider.

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