The Outdoor Athletes Nemesis Skin Cancer

The athletes’ Marathon runners, cross country skiers, mountain and rock climbers, swimmers- these are some of the most physically fit people in the world, but all continually and sometimes unknowingly put themselves at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease skin cancer.

Increased time in the sun, sweating, exposure to greater areas of the body due to minimal clothing can all contribute to the contracting of melanoma. Regardless of one’s skin color or level of fitness, everyone is at risk of contracting skin cancer, though there are some characteristics which may make a person more susceptible including the fairness of skin and hair, a family history of skin cancer and a tendency to burn rather than tan can all put you at a greater risk. Studies also show that exposure to the artificial rays of a tanning bed or booth can also increase one’s risk of contracting skin cancer.

You can reduce your risk of contracting skin cancer in several ways, firstly by limiting your body’s exposure to the sun, especially during the most dangerous hours ten a.m. to two p.m. If being in the sun is unavoidable you should be certain to follow some precautionary measures: you should apply high sun protection factor or SPF (fifteen or higher) sunscreen thirty minutes before exposure to the sun and reapply at least every two hours of continual exposure. Use a sunscreen that is waterproof, even if you’re not going to be in the water because the moisture of any kind (like sweat) can reduce the effectiveness of a sunscreen that isn’t waterproof.

Wear protective clothing, a light t-shirt and hat add an extra layer of protection that may help make the difference between your skin getting burned and you remaining safe from dangerous rays. When appropriate take breaks and spend time in the shade under a beach tent/umbrella or a tree. You should also wear a pair of ultraviolet protective sunglasses to help protect the bridge of your nose and the skin around the eyes.

It’s understood that sometimes for, whatever reason, we get sunburn anyway. Whether it’s from totally ignoring the safety precautions or not reapplying sunscreen often enough or being in the water or snow, both of which increase the risk of getting burned because the sun reflects off of them, or just being in the sun for too long. So what do you do if you get sunburn? There are several over the counter products that can ease the discomfort of sunburn: aloe Vera gel, oatmeal baths, and cold compresses can put out the fire caused by mild cases of sunburn, but a severe case may require a trip to the doctor and an oral steroid to ease your pain.

If you’ve had a lifetime of overexposure to the sun, and multiple occasions of burning in your past there are some things you need to be on the lookout for. If you have any irregularly shaped moles or dark spots, any mole-like spots that grow, change color, ooze, or bleed, then you need to see your physician; these are all possible warning signs.

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