Memorial Day weekend marks the symbolic start of the summer season and is often filled with outdoor celebrations. As we enter this season, it is important to review summer health tips, particularly some of the information of special concern to our senior clients.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month; please take some time to read and share this important information and tips about sun safety and risks*. You can also check out our articles Summer Precautions for Seniors and Summer Safety Issues and Other Seasonal Tips (with information on heat safety, caregiver vacations, senior travel tips and support systems for snowbirds in Florida).
Why is sun a safety concern?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. The main source of UV radiation (rays) is the sun, although it can also come from man-made sources such as tanning beds and welding torches. Most skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to the UV rays in sunlight. Both basal cell and squamous cell cancers (the most common types of skin cancer) tend to be found on sun-exposed parts of the body, and their occurrence is related to lifetime sun exposure. The risk of melanoma, a more serious but less common type of skin cancer, is also related to sun exposure, although perhaps not as strongly.
UV radiation can also lead to sunburn, rashes, and eye problems. It causes premature skin aging and signs of sun damage and can also weaken the immune system.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in this country each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 76,000 cases of skin cancer in 2014.
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Cover up with protective clothing to reduce skin’s exposure to UV rays and cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat.
- Use sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 30 or higher. Apply a generous amount and reapply every 2 hours (or after swimming or sweating).
- Wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption.
- Sunscreen doesn’t protect from all UV rays, so don’t use sunscreen as a way to stay out in the sun longer.
- Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days.
- Avoid other sources of UV light such as tanning beds and sun lamps.
- Monitor skin changes (see below for more information) and have your doctor/dermatologist do a regular skin check.
Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
- Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
- Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or a change in the way a bump or nodule looks
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
- A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
You should monitor your skin every month and have a routine checkup with your doctor (at least yearly), especially if you have risk factors for skin cancer such as a family or personal history, spending a lot of time outdoors, or you have many moles, pale skin and are prone to sunburn or have had several sunburns.
You can read more at the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website.
For fun ideas on safe summertime activities for seniors, check out Beat the Heat: Summer Senior Activity Ideas and Cool Activities in Tampa Bay.
EasyLiving is here to help you and your elder loved ones have a safe, fun summer. We offer senior concierge services for customized senior travel and activities, home health/caregiver services to stay safe and well year-round and respite services for caregivers who need to take a vacation…plus more! Call us today at 727-447-5845 to find out more!