KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Whatever takes us outside puts us all in the sun. The sun brings us warmth and energy, but also dangers. Prolonged and overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays can lead to skin damage and skin cancer.
Preventing skin cancer
Leslie Heller, a physician’s assistant at Greater Knoxville Dermatology, sees the ravages of sun damage daily and has this advice as we begin the outdoor summer season.
“Always protect your skin. So wide-brim hats, of course, sunglasses because people don’t often think about ocular cancers like ocular melanoma. And, of course, SPF 30, broad spectrum, water resistant are always advised every time you go outside,” said Heller. And what I prefer for patients – it’s safest – is zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Those are physical sunscreens and so that means it’s literally creating a shield. And so when the sun is on the skin, those UV rays are actually blocked and do not penetrate the skin.”
Myth vs. Fact
Some of the reasons for the high number of skin cancer cases are long-lasting myths. Here are some that can lead to danger:
- “If I get a good base tan, that will limit future burns.”
- “It is cloudy, so I’m good today.”
- “If I use a tanning bed, I can limit my sun exposure.”
- “I need to get in the sun to get Vitamin D.”
Those are myths. Here are the facts:
- Any tan is sun damage.
- Tanning beds can lead to skin cancer.
- You can get the body’s Vitamin D supply with just five minutes of time in the sun.
Remember the 5 S’s
As you prepare yourself and your family to spend time in the East Tennessee sun, remember the five S’s: slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.
- Slip into sun protective clothing.
- Slop on the sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15.
- Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
- Seek shelter in the midday sun.
- Slide on some sunglasses.
Protecting your pets
That works for you and your family, but what about the four-legged family members? Young Williams Animal Center has this advice for pet owners.
“They need to be hydrated just as much as you do, especially while walking. Also, protect their paws. So there are little booties and shoes that you can put on your dog, and it may seem silly, but that asphalt really can do some permanent damage and burn their feet,” said spokesperson Courtney Kliman. “Never leave them in a car. It sounds like common sense, but it happens so much. Within just 10 minutes, a dog can have a heat stroke.”
So this summer as you plan your outdoor activities, pay attention to the weather and be sure to protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful rays.
(The WATE Storm Team is doing summer weather awareness stories all this week.)