Tag Archives: UVB rays

Myths and Facts about Sunburn and Sunscreen

There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. So says Dr. Neda Ashourian of the Northwestern Skin Cancer Institute, Ltd. Speaking before the hospital’s Healthy Transitions group, Dr. Ashourian said that the best you can get is water-resistant sunscreen. So reapply when you come out of the water.


On that subject she said that when buying sunscreen to get SPF 30 or greater. It is critical to look for the terms Broad Spectrum on the container. If those words aren’t present, the sunscreen, no matter how high the SPF rating, may not protect you from the damaging Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays of the sun.

Some other dangers from sun included – windows. The UVA rays can penetrate windows, but not the Ultraviolet B (UVB).

You can get sunburn on a cloudy day because 80 percent of the sun’s rays penetrate clouds and fog.

At the beach sand reflects ultraviolet rays so you have to be doubly careful there and be certain that you have fresh sunscreen on. You need to reapply sunscreen after two hours because it wears off.

Finally, the end of summer is not the end of danger from ultraviolet light. Snow reflects UV light so you need to protect your face when skiing or engaging in other outdoor activities.

I have written about sunburn several times in the past couple of weeks and I want to reiterate probably the most important concept I have learned, namely there is no such thing as a healthy tan. I am disturbed to realize that as I have always prided myself on the nice tan that I got out riding in the sun. But, a “nice tan” is the siren song of skin cancer. Pay her no heed.

On a related subject, please check out my Page – How to Deal With Extreme Heat.

Tony

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First Rate Tips on Preventing Skin Cancer – ADA

Much of the country is suffering under extreme heat as the summer takes its time drawing to a close. So, many of us are playing and laboring under a hot sun.

Last week I wrote about my second skirmish with skin cancer so the subject is near if not dear to me.

The power of the sun can be brilliant as you can see in this presunrise shot of the Chicago Lakefront. That doesn't mean the UV rays can't be cancerous.

The power of the sun can be brilliant as you can see in this presunrise shot of the Chicago Lakefront. That doesn’t mean the UV rays can’t be cancerous. Wear protection.

Here are some tips from the American Dermatological Association that my doctor gave me. I hope you will pick up something useful from them and avoid going under the knife as I must on September 10.

The ADA brochure stated:

Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers. Here is what you can do:
*Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all skin not covered by clothing. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
*Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
*Seek shade when appropriate. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.

*Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
*Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
*Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product or spray, but continue to use sunscreen with it.

Tony

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I Have a Second Skirmish With Skin Cancer

As regular readers know I contracted skin cancer two years ago this month. I have included the links to the posts I wrote at the time and inserted them in the final paragraph if you would want the details.

This year our local hospital Northwestern Memorial offered free skin cancer screenings, so my girlfriend and I went on June 18. We each learned that we had a couple of ‘bad’ spots that needed to be removed for a biopsy. My girlfriend got her biopsies done last month and both came back negative for cancer. I had to wait a couple of weeks because I was using a new dermatologist. I had my two trouble spots removed last week and I got the results yesterday. Not good. Each was a basal cell carcinoma – BCC. Skin cancer. Again.

Don't be fooled by this smiling face. His rays are deadly.

Don’t be fooled by this smiling face. His rays are deadly.

As I wrote last year, “The Skin Cancer Foundation says that BCCs are abnormal uncontrolled growths that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of our skin. Usually caused by a combination of UltraViolet exposure. The good (?) news is that they rarely spread.

“There are an estimated 2.8 million cases of BCC diagnosed in the U.S. each year. In fact, it is the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs. It shouldn’t be taken lightly ….”

For the record, after my surgery of August 2012, I practiced ‘safe sun’ with the zeal of a reformed whore. I bought several sunblocks, always the ‘broad spectrum’ variety that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Often when riding my bike I would wear a white long sleeved shirt to protect my arms from the rays. So, I was disappointed to learn that the spot on my face and the one on my back are both cancerous. I guess, on the positive side, I did not have more of them. I would like to think that my efforts to avoid skin cancer had some good effects. Also, each one is about half the size of the tumor I had removed two years ago.

I have booked my Mohs surgery for next month. On September 10 I will go back under the knife.

Here’s what the Skin Cancer Foundation says about Mohs Surgery: “What is Mohs surgery? It is the excision of a cancer from the skin, followed by the detailed mapping and complete microscopic examination of the cancerous tissue and the margins surrounding it. If the margins are indeed cancer-free, the surgery is ended. If not, more tissue is removed, and this procedure is repeated until the margins of the final tissue examined are clear of cancer.”

This is what happens in Mohs surgery. They take more than a layer.

This is what happens in Mohs surgery. They take more than a layer.

The cure rate of the Mohs technique is 99 percent, considerably higher than other methods.”

Here are the links for my first cancer posts: Do I Have Skin Cancer? What Did I Learn After Being Diagnosed with Skin Cancer? What Happened During My Skin Cancer Surgery?

Following are further posts on the subject for you: Important Facts About Skin Cancer, What You Need for May – Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Tony

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