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Skin-Deep Training to Prevent Skin Cancer from the Sun

Original article from safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

By Chris Kilbourne

Cancer is one of the sun’s more serious hazards, but workers who protect their skin will also prevent premature aging and eye damage when they do the following:

Recognize the danger hours. The sun’s rays are most damaging between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so workers should take the greatest precautions during these hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that workers who are exposed to the sun at this time of day should:

·         Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

·         Apply sunscreen generously (about a palmful) several minutes before going outside.

·         Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring.

·         Wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect the head, ears, and neck.

·         Take precautions even when it’s cloudy—damaging UV rays can penetrate clouds.

·         Know if they are at high risk. Workers with fair skin, hair, and eyes, a family history of skin cancer, or a personal history of breast cancer, more than 100 moles on the skin, or a history of severe childhood sunburns are at increased risk of skin cancer.

Dress appropriately. Recommend that workers wear:

·         Dark-colored clothing made of tightly woven fabric

·         Sun-protective clothing treated with a chemical sunblock during the manufacturing process

·         Fabric with a UV protection factor (UPF) rating of 50, which allows only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through (To receive the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, fabrics must have a minimum UPF of 30.)

Employees can also wash sun protection into their clothes with an approved laundry additive that increases protection and lasts through 20 washings.

Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses can protect eyes if they:

·         Offer 99 percent to 100 percent UV absorption

·         Block both forms of UV radiation (UVA and UVB)

·         Offer wraparound protection

Allergy Tip

Sunscreens for young children are often formulated without p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and similar chemicals that can irritate tender skin. Workers with skin conditions like rosacea, or those who have skin allergies or sensitivities to sun-protective chemicals, may fare better with products made for children.

Early Identification

Early diagnosis is extremely important to combating skin cancer; the 5-year survival rate for melanoma victims who are diagnosed before the cancer has spread to other tissues is 98 percent. Workers with high levels of sun exposure on the job can protect themselves by recognizing the disease in its early stages. Early signs of skin cancer include:

·         Changes in the skin, especially changes to moles on the skin (such as a change in size or color) and new moles on the skin

·         A bump or nodule on the skin that becomes scaly, oozes, bleeds, or develops some other dramatic change in appearance

·         Pigmentation that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark on the skin

·         Moles or marks on the skin that become itchy, tender, painful, or increasingly sensitive

Advise workers who notice these kinds of changes to visit their healthcare professional.

Why It Matters

·         Melanoma skin cancer is only the third most common type of skin cancer but causes the greatest number of deaths. Melanomas account for about 60,000 diagnosed cases of skin cancer and nearly 9,000 deaths annually nationwide.

·         As many as 90 percent of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, including sunlight and lights used in tanning beds.