It is natural to give special attention to our most vital internal organs, – the brain, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver, etc.

We hear physicians and health experts emphasize, “Mental health”, “Heart Health”, “Don’t use tobacco products”, “Watch your blood pressure and blood sugar.” In the midst of such important information, it is easy to overlook the biggest organ, our body’s’ first line of defense – the skin.

Our skin is more than just a barrier to keep our insides inside. It also helps us regulate temperature, protects us from UV radiation, and produces Vitamin D which helps prevent many diseases. Since our skin serves a big role in overall health and wellbeing, keeping up with skin care and disease prevention is essential. Overexposure to the sun’s rays or UV rays causes our skin cells to die, and in many cases, to develop cancer. Even on cloudy days or while swimming, the sun’s rays are powerful and can cause serious damage.

The same is true for tanning beds which use UV lights. These speed up the aging of skin and increase the risk of cancer. The most overstated advice is still ringing loud and true, wear sunscreen! Experts recommend people of all ages use a sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher while in the sun.

Adults require about an ounce or a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover their bodies. It is equally important to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and more often after sweating or swimming. When we fail to reapply, sunscreen can cause a false sense of security and be just as dangerous as not wearing any at all.

Following these guidelines can help prevent skin disease and cancer. If you use a tanning bed or spend multiple hours in the sun, pay attention to your skin. Remember the ABCDE rule for identifying skin moles and spots.

A – Asymmetry. Is the shape of the mole asymmetric?

B – Borders. Are the borders of the mole irregular?

C – Color. Is it multiple colors?

D – Diameter. Is it bigger than the size of a pencil eraser (6mm)?

E – Evolving. Has the mole or spot changed or developed a symptom such as bleeding or itching?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it is time to see a physician for further analysis. If you do not have a family physician, call the Decatur County Memorial Hospital call center at (812) 222-DOCS to schedule a new patient visit.

We can always eat healthy foods, exercise more, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep. But our best efforts to stay healthy are lost when we develop skin diseases due to lack of attention. Don’t let the sun soak up your fun this summer and wear sunscreen!

Information provided by DCMH

- Information provided by DCMH

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