Protecting Yourself from the Sun

July is UV Safety Month. Did you know that some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool? Sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun – when you walk around the park, to and from your car or even when your arm is exposed to sunlight from the car window.

"Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide!" is a catch phrase that can help you remember the five key steps you can take to protect yourself from harmful UV rays:

• SLIP on sun-protective clothing.

• SLOP on at least 30+ SPF broad spectrum sunscreen.

• SLAP on a wide-brimmed hat.

• SEEK shade, especially between 10am-4pm.

• SLIDE on sunglasses to protect the eyes and the sensitive skin around them.

These steps complement each other, and they provide the best protection when used together. Remember to avoid tanning and NEVER use a UV tanning bed, these actions can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. It’s important to conduct a monthly self-exam to check for new or changing spots.

The ABCDE rule is good to keep in mind while performing the exam:

A. Asymmetry: a mole is asymmetrical if you can draw a line through the middle and the two sides don’t match.

B.Border: the mole has uneven borders, or borders that are scalloped or notched.

C. Color: the mole has a variety of colors or shades of a color, including red, blue or white.

D. Diameter: moles that have a diameter larger than the eraser tip on a pencil – 6mm.

E. Evolving: moles that change in any way – size, color, shape, height; or moles that begin to bleed, itch or crust.

Each of the ABCDE rules can be warning signs of melanoma. If you see one or more, make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.