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A Smart Guide to Sun Protection

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As you may have heard or read, the Food & Drug Administration has decided to extend the compliance date for the sunscreen labeling and testing requirements from this summer to the end of 2012 for major sunscreen brands.

The requirements will ensure that sunscreen products are clearly labeled as to their broad-spectrum protection and sun protection factor (or SPF), and whether they protect against only sunburn, or protect against both sunburn and skin cancer. The requirements also will ban misleading terms such as “waterproof” to describe these products. Extending the compliance date allows manufacturers the necessary time to test their products for broad-spectrum protection and properly label them.

Until sunscreens meet the FDA’s new labeling and testing requirements, the Academy recommends that you use these simple tips to help protect yourself during the upcoming summer season – and beyond.

Always use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen rated SPF 30 or more.  “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB rays). To clear up a misconception: Something rated SPF 30 is NOT “twice as strong” as something with an SPF 15.

Use a shot glass worth of sunscreen to start and when re-applying. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a shot glass is about the right amount of sunscreen to put on before you head outside – even on a cloudy day. Re-apply that much sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. 

 Be fashion-forward and sun-safe. Enhance your outdoor wardrobe with everything from wide-brimmed hats to UV-resistant clothing. When used with sunscreen, these clothing items provide effective and, yes, fashionable protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Pack a sun-protection “Go Bag” before heading out. Once you hit the beach, park or playground, you will be out of luck if you forget your sunscreen. As always, it’s best to follow the tips above, but packing a “Go Bag” prior to a day at the beach, on the baseball diamond or picnicking in the park is always a good idea. Pack at least one family-sized bottle of sunscreen, hats and sunglasses for your group just to be sure you’re sun safe once outside.

And remember that while more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, there’s plenty you can do to help prevent it, detect it – and live.

What Does Melanoma Look Like?

  • No one is text-book case: my melanoma was just itching: nothing else, just itching: my doctor said: you have “cancer-phobia”, just put hydrocortisol cream on it. That’ is it. Well, I have insisted to be removed and then he wanted to cut out more skin from the same location: then he became “cancer-phobic”.

Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). Below are photos of melanoma that formed on the skin. Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other areas of the body with pigmented tissues.

Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole. People should tell their doctor if they notice any changes on the skin. The only way to diagnose melanoma is to remove tissue and check it for cancer cells.

Thinking of “ABCDE” can help you remember what to look for:

  • Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea (larger than 6 millimeters or about 1/4 inch).
  • Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.

In more advanced melanoma, the texture of the mole may change. The skin on the surface may break down and look scraped. It may become hard or lumpy. The surface may ooze or bleed. Sometimes the melanoma is itchy, tender, or painful.

Photos of Melanoma

A large, asymmetrical melanoma with an uneven color and irregular border

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large, asymmetrical melanoma that is more than 10 millimeters (about 1/2 inch) wide

 

 

 

 

 

A melanoma with uneven color, an irregular border, and a scaly or flaky area

 

 

 

 

 

 

A melanoma with an irregular border

 

 

 

 

 

 

A melanoma with uneven color and an ir

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"Be good to yourself. If you do not take care of your body, where will you live?"

Kobi Yamada