It is officially summer! Most of us are spending more time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather. I know I am.
I was at the Perrysburg City pool today, along with many other Perrysburg residents, seeking refuge from the heat in the refreshingly cool water. The sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly – a perfect day to go to the pool.
I applied water-resistant sunscreen on myself and on my daughters, and off they went, jumping into the water with squeals of delight, as other children were playing with pool toys, laughing and splashing about, swimming, diving off the diving boards and going down the water slide. When the break time came, I reapplied sunscreen to my daughters but not myself, and I’m paying for it now with a slightly pinkish hue to my skin. Ouch! I should know better, but I thought, “I’ll be okay!”
Did you know that a person’s risk of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, doubles if you have had five or more sunburns in your lifetime? Did you know that skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the United States and it accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States?
It seems that preventing sunburn is a lot more serious that some of us think. I have heard people say, “Oh, I burn at the beginning of summer and then I tan. It’s not a big deal.”
Well, think about your age and how each summer, you have probably been sunburned at least once. That adds up to a lot more than five sunburns in your lifetime. I know a lot of people who won’t wear any sunscreen because they “want to get tan.”
Wearing sunscreen doesn’t prevent you from getting tan – it prevents you from getting burned. Ultra Violet (UV) rays stimulate the melanocytes in the skin to produce melanin, which is what results in a tan. A tan is your body’s way of trying to protect you from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays.
The Ohio Department of Health recommends that you wear a sunscreen with at least a SPF 30. Sunscreens that are labeled “broad spectrum” protect against both UVA and UVB rays. It would be beneficial to use water-resistant sunscreen if you will be swimming or in the water. The state department also recommends that you re-apply sunscreen at regular intervals, especially after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel.
So, the one-time application that I did today doesn’t cut it. I am living proof of that. What is the bottom line? Burning is not good, so wear sunscreen and reapply it regularly so you can enjoy being out in the sun now, while protecting your long-term health.
Jennifer Wagner is a Perrysburg High School graduate and current Perrysburg resident, who has an interest in health, nutrition, fitness and exercise-related topics after losing more than 120 lbs. through Weight Watchers and exercise. She won first prize in the national Weight Watchers Inspiring Stories Contest and is being featured in the July issue of More Magazine. She was recently hired as a leader for Weight Watchers International.