Tonight I had the honor of being a guest speaker at the local Cub Scout Pack Meeting speaking about sun safety! We started out by talking about skin being the largest organ on our body and that it needs protection, especially from our desert sun! I grew up in the desert and wore sunscreen to protect my skin in the summertime when I would swim, but I didn’t protect my skin in the winter. What happens if we don’t protect our skin? We can get a sunburn, ouch! But even worse, our skin never forgets the damage the sun does to it. Our skin isn’t very good at healing from sun damage. It remembers being hurt. A few years ago, a spot on my skin changed. I found out I have a nasty kind of skin cancer called “melanoma.” Lots of grownups get tricked and think skin cancer can just be cut off. Sadly it can’t. The bad skin cells grew down into my body and try to take over my insides like weeds! I have to take lots and lots of medicine to try to stop the weeds. It’s not very fun. They make me tired and grumpy sometimes. I hope that all of the cub scouts will take really good care of their skin so they don’t get melanoma! I have three ideas to help protect your skin!
SLIP on a shirt. When you are swimming or outside, make sure you wear a shirt with sun protection in it. A plain while tee is the equivalent of SPF 7 and does not offer enough coverage alone. A wet white tee is only SPF 3! So, check the labels of swim shirts to make sure they have sun protection built in. These are widely available during swim season at most retailers. They also don’t wear off in the water or with time and you don’t have to worry about missing spots while putting on sunscreen! My kids LOVE that I don’t have to rub cold sunscreen on their tummies and backs!
SLOP on sunscreen. Use a lot, don’t miss a spot! Make sure it is at least SPF 30 or above. Read the directions and make sure Mom and Dad read the directions, it needs time to start working before you go outside! Sunscreen is only water resistant for 80 or 40 minutes at a time, so check the label. It needs to be reapplied often! And be careful to get the tricky spots like the back of your neck and tops of your ears!
SLAP on a hat and sunglasses. This gives extra protection for the tricky spots that are easy to miss with sunscreen. The boy scout hats are a good start, but if you are hiking, try a wide brim hat to protect your ears and neck even better! Melanoma can grow in your eyes, so sunglasses are important to protect your eyes too!
You are invited to walk with Team Mela-no-mas in the Tucson 2013 Melanoma Walk! No mas means no more in Spanish, so our team name means no more melanoma! It is a family and dog friendly mile and a half walk. You can register to join us at Fight Melanoma Today. If you join our team, please email me and let me know what size t-shirt(s) you would like!