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Body Watch | Save Our Skins

Battle Plans

May 14, 1997

* Plan outdoor activities for early morning or late afternoon. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

* When out in the sun, wear a hat, as well as long-sleeved shirts and long pants made of tightly woven materials.

* Use a sunscreen before going outside and reapply every two hours while you're in the sun. Also reapply after swimming or sweating heavily.

* Don't be a tightwad when applying sunscreen; don't forget to include your ears, lips and nose.

* Use a sunscreen on overcast days and during high-altitude activities such as mountain climbing since there is less atmosphere to absorb the sun's rays (sunscreen with SPFs of 25 to 30 are advised).

* If you're at high risk for skin cancer (an outdoor worker, fair-skinned or if you've already had skin cancer), apply sunscreen daily.

* If you develop an allergic reaction to your sunscreen, switch to another brand--there are lots on the market.

* Certain medications, drugs and cosmetics can cause side effects if you are exposed to the sun. Consult your physician or pharmacist.

* Beware of reflective surfaces such as sand, concrete and water, which can reflect more than half the sun's rays onto your skin.

* Sunscreen should not be used on babies younger than 6 months old.

* Never put baby oil on your child before going outdoors; it makes the skin translucent, letting solar rays pass through more easily.

Source: Skin Cancer Foundation. For free information, brochures or to reach the foundation's help line, call (800) SKIN-490.

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What Happens to Your Skin?

Repeated sun exposure over many years:

Breaks down skin's elastic tissues

Makes skin look prematurely wrinkled

Increases risk of skin cancer

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Self-Examination

Early detection is the most important defense. Carefully look at freckles, blemishes, birthmarks, moles.

A few times a year, check that they are not growing or changing shape or color; if so, consult your doctor.

* Source: America Cancer Society

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