For many, the summer time means family vacations to tropical destinations, hiking on trails in the blazing heat and cooling off by the pool. While there is a large appeal to having that summer tan, health care professionals recommend using caution when it comes to sun exposure.
Marcia Locke, communications and outreach coordinator at the Johnson Cancer Research Center, said it is important to reapply sunscreen every hour in order to protect one’s skin due to sensitivity.
“Skin cancer is very prevalent and the damage that leads to skin cancer happens in childhood and in youth when you spend more time outside,” Locke said.
Locke said youth are most effected by the sun when it comes to skin damage. While many might not believe that tanning is harmful, Locke said a tan is a sign of skin damage and can later lead to skin cancer. The appeal to lay out by the pool or beach and soak up the sun may seem good for short term, but in the grand scheme of things, it can be very harmful for the skin.
Locke also said one should not purposely go out to tan but rather avoid too much sun exposure for extended periods of time outside. When outside during the summer months, Locke suggested wearing sunscreen, floppy hats and possibly a water shirt or something to cover the skin.
Cathryn Passman, freshman in elementary education, said she avidly tans and began working at a tanning salon.
“I’ve been using tanning oil for almost three years because it helps me get tan much faster,” Passman said.
Passman said she enjoys tanning because she feels more confident when she was tan and she likes having a summer glow. Passman began tanning in high school and has made it a habit.
Passman now works at a tanning salon and said there was a month where she tanned up to four times a week in a tanning bed. Passman’s habitual tanning did not last long after realizing how bad it was for her skin. Passman said now if she wants to look tan for a special occasion she will just get a spray tan in order to achieve that summer glow, instead of harming her skin in a tanning bed or laying out in the summer sun.
Darby Miller, freshman in life sciences, said she had cancer in the past and had to undergo multiple procedures before being cured, so now she is cautious of the sun. Her cancer was not related to skin damage from the sun, but she said she does not want to risk her health with excess sun exposure.
“I have to put sunscreen on my scars so they don’t go back to their original color, otherwise they will stay burned,” Miller said.
Miller said before she got cancer she never touched sunscreen and she would get really tan during the summer months. She is much more cautious of how she lives since her cancer treatment and being cured. Miller said she applies sunscreen and covers her skin per her doctor’s recommendation just to have extra caution so her cancer never returns.
Miller is now aware of the dangers of cancer and the harm that the sun can cause so she always checks her skin to make sure she is healthy.
“I would recommend to check your skin and see if you have any spots,” Locke said. “Check your skin for these signs and watch for change.”