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Ever since I can remember, I have been slathered with sunscreen. And, of course, as a child I hated it. It was slippery, sometimes smelly, and always a hassle. Seemed like a waste of time.

Now, I still don’t love it, but I understand better why it is so incredibly important to be diligent about applying it before I leave the house to spend time outside.

Why? Over the years I had to see my grandfather have multiple surgeries to remove the cancer and being left with chunks of his skin missing. In the end, even though they cut the cancerous pieces away, they couldn’t prevent it from spreading. He lost his life to skin cancer.

Knowing the Risks

More recently, I’ve seen my mother have to have surgery to remove cancerous cells despite the fact she has been careful about skin protection most of her life.

Skin cancer runs in my family, and so I tend to hide from the sun. I can feel UV rays starting to burn my skin after even short periods of exposure, so when I do spend time outside I make sure to apply sunscreen first. Part of that is genetics, clearly my family is inclined to skin cancer, but part of it is also common sense. Sure, being on the pale side also makes me more at risk for cancer, but remember: anyone can get skin cancer, no matter your skin color or family history.

When used properly, sunscreen — over 30 SPF — can help prevent skin cancer, skin aging, and sunburn.

Why wouldn’t you want to lower your risk if you had the chance?

What You Can Do to Protect Your Skin

  1. Cover up: Wear sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), hats, sunglasses and protective clothing.
  2. Avoid the sun when it is strongest – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  3. Keep kids under 6 months out of the sun completely.
  4. Tanning beds? Forget them!
  5. Don’t trust the clouds. Cloud Coverage does not protect you from the UV rays that cause skin damage.

[Top image: Shutterstock]

About Nick Popio

Nick Popio is a social media communications specialist at BCBSNC. He is passionate about helping others connect and engage in meaningful conversation and striving to make healthcare more transparent for everyone.

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