Before embarking on your tropical Spring Break destination, we hope you keep in mind the detrimental effects of a blistering sun. Penn did it’s part to get the word out there; March 1-5 was Skin Cancer Awareness week. Just in time for spring break, free sun block was given out on Locust Walk. For more info on the University’s efforts in cancer awareness, check out relayatpenn.org.
Now it’s your turn to take action – protect YOURSELF. There is no such thing as a “healthy tan”: the darker hue of your skin is just the short-term effect on the outside of your skin; imagine what UV rays are actually doing to your cells! The darkening of your skin is actually the bonding of two thymin dimmers (genetic parts of the cell) that pigments your skin. Years after the color fades, the skin will lose elasticity, wrinkle, and dry out faster.
The facts: the negative effects of the sun actually build up over time. Just one blistering sunburn can increase risk of skin cancer by 50 %. A previous incident of skin cancer increases the probability of another positive diagnosis by ten. The next big offender is genetic history of skin cancer, increasing risk by eight. Genetics also play another role: having fair skin, or light hair (red or blonde) increases likelihood as well.
But don’t lose hope! There are a many ways to enjoy your time in the sun and still stay healthy. Just follow these tips:
- Apply Sunscreen. Get a friend (or a sexy boy) to lather you up thirty minutes before stepping into the sunlight. If you hop in a pool, don’t listen to the “waterproof” label; the protective factors in sunscreen wash away. Have your spring break fling lather, rinse, and repeat.
- Remember to grab your stunner shades: the sun can impair vision and may necessitate corrective eye lens surgery later on in life.
- Wear a hat; the brim helps keep the rays out of your face and eyes.
- Sit in the shade.
- Avoid tanning beds (they are coined “Cancer Crates” for a reason).
- After any time in the sun, rub moisturizer on the skin to soothe it from the heat. You may not feel a rash or see a burn, but your skin will thank you.
Also, the American Cancer Society recommends skin checks every two to three years to keep skin cancer free. If you find a mole, follow the ABCDE inspection guide: Asymmetrical shape, Border, Color (Darkening pigment or uneven shade is not good), Diameter: over 6 mm, Elevation/Enlargement. Remember to use Sun Protection Factor above 15 at all times. Indulgence is necessary: have the pool boys work in a massage while they’re latherin’ you up. Make sure you call them back to “reapply” every two to three hours.
By Nikki Pepperman