Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Protecting your skin is key to enjoying your summer

By Dr. Mansour Bendago, Division Head of Plastic Surgery, Rouge Valley Health System

Seeing the beautiful sunshine and feeling those warm rays on our skin is a welcome change from the cold harsh winter, and long wet spring. But in order to get the most out of the summer season, it’s important that we always make protecting our skin a priority. 

Not protecting your skin can make it more susceptible to ultra violet (UV) damage, which can result in skin cancer. And this is possible whether your skin is light or dark. You even need sun protection when the skies are overcast.

Preventing Skin Damage  
Skin is divided into six categories, ranging from one (no pigmentation) to six (very dark). People whose skin ranges between one and three are more susceptible to skin damage from the sun, although those with darker skin are not exempt.

What you need to protect your skin   
Take great care in protecting your skin from sun’s harsh UV rays, especially areas that are typically more exposed to the sun, like the face, shoulders, arms, and legs, especially below the knees. You should use a sun screen that is sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or greater. Wear a hat with a brim to give your face added UV protection. Be sure to wear sunglasses that offer UV protection.
Sunscreen is a must for children above six months of age. And because their eye tissue is delicate and their pupils are larger, their eyes are more susceptible to UV damage than adults. So they should wear sunglasses when they’re outside. Wearing a hat can help to protect their face and eyes.
Adults and children alike should also keep themselves hydrated by drinking water, especially when they’re out in the sun.

Melanoma – What to Look For 
One of the reasons we should take great care in our skin is to prevent melanoma, a very aggressive form of skin cancer. Here are some signs to look for: 
- Moles become asymmetrical in appearance, where one half is unlike the other;
- Their normally well-defined borders become irregular in appearance;
- The colour of mole starts to change;
- Itchiness or bleeding of the mole;
- The mole appears like an ulcer or a scar.
If you notice these types of changes, contact your physician immediately.

So while you go out and enjoy your summer, please remember to always protect your body’s largest organ – your skin! 
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Related news - 
Read an article about port-wine stain and how Rouge Valley is treating children with this serious skin condition. Rouge Valley is one of only two hospitals in Ontario, which treats this condition.