#MenOfMI: The day I learned to say, ‘Bring on the sunscreen’

Growing up in Mid-Michigan, my family would spend many summer weekends on Duck Lake near Battle Creek. When we weren’t in the water, we would lay outside in the warm sun to work on our suntans. When the school bells started ringing again in September, one sure sign that you had fun that summer was a deep, dark brown tan and a story about how much your first sunburn of the year hurt.

Tanning oil and tanning accelerators were popular, sunscreen was not.

My awareness about the potentially harmless effects of all that unprotected time out in the sun began changing as I started college. A good friend had a small tumor removed that proved to be malignant and suddenly, I couldn’t find enough sunscreen.

I learned there are several things we all can do to keep ourselves safe while still enjoying the sun.  The Centers for Disease Control has some easy recommendations too:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

I’ve also developed a habit of checking out the different moles on my body that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere after I turned 30. And if they become sore or discolored, I have them checked out by my doctor.

It might seem simple, but that’s how my friend found his melanoma early enough to avoid drastic treatment.

Keep in mind that melanoma does not care about race, either. Sure, white men are more susceptible to the disease than other races, but studies have found that Hispanic and African-American men are more likely to die from it because the cancer often goes undetected.

What will you be doing to keep your skin safe this summer?

Photo credit: Hacklock

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