Hello, sunshine!

Danielle Mullin, NP

Welcome back, sunshine!

We have waited many months to get outside and enjoy the warmth and sun. With the excitement that winter is over, we often forget the dangers of the sun. It is important to always remind ourselves of basic sun safety rules.

The skin is the largest organ in the body. We need to protect it because it’s our first line of defense against infection and it prevents dehydration.

The pinnacle of sun safety is sunscreen! Everyone should wear a broad-spectrum (protects from both UVA and UVB rays), water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. It doesn’t matter how pale or how dark your skin is or if it’s cloudy or sunny outside, sunscreen is for everyone every day.

No sunburn is worth the pain and potential long-term effects it may cause.

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which can come from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two to three hours and at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. And, remember to reapply after being in the water or sweating!

Many people don’t realize tanned skin is damaged skin, and some forget you can still get bronzed skin even with sunscreen applied. Hats, sunglasses and swim shirts are other good ways to protect the skin and eyes from UV rays. The strongest sunshine is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., so it is important to seek shade during these times and to make sure to wear sunscreen. Also, make sure you stay well-hydrated outside.

Even with all this information, we shouldn’t fear the sun. We all need the vitamin D the sun provides to boost our moods and our immunity. It’s important to protect yourself when you are outdoors.

For additional information on sun safety, you can check websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the American Cancer Society.

If you notice a mole or mark on your skin that is new or changing in any way, it’s important to have it checked by your primary care provider. Skin cancer is treatable, and you have an excellent survival rate when it’s caught and treated early. Call the Essentia Health-Wahpeton Clinic at 701-642-2000 to schedule a visit convenient for you.

Danielle Mullin, NP, works in pediatrics at Essentia Health-Wahpeton Clinic.

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