Get the summer soundtrack revved up! It’s beginning to look a lot like sun and fun.

That also means your skin is going to get bombarded with those death rays from that big yellow ball of fire in the sky. That might be a little drag-queen dramatic, but you still want to take precautions from the sun and its adverse effects upon your skin.

The skin is the biggest organ in the body, and it handles the duties of a thousand worker bees. It protects our internal organs, rebuffs the advances of bacteria, staves off dehydration, and regulates body temperature. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and that should not be surprising, given that we are a culture that loves tanning. Almost half of all cancers from sea to shining sea are a form of skin cancer. Most people treat their blue suede shoes and their leather bombers with more affection than their body covering.

There are two main types of skin cancer — the nonmelanoma type and the melanoma type. The overwhelming majority of skin cancers are the nonmelanoma kind and these are usually survivable. The melanoma form is the one that should send goose bumps scattering around your body. It can be curable, but it needs to be detected early. Most deaths associated with skin cancer are the result of this evil stepsister.

Knowing is half the battle. Take note of these risk factors. If you have unprotected or excessive sun exposure, you’re at risk. If you have a fair complexion, you’re at risk. If you have a family history of skin cancer, you’re at risk. If you had severe sunburns as a child, you’re at risk. If you have several of these risk factors on your progress report, it’s likely that warning bells and air sirens will begin sounding.

It is wise to examine your skin frequently for any signs of trouble. The American Cancer Society suggests following the ABCD rules:
(A) Asymmetry — Look for two sides of a mole or pigment that do not match.
(B) Border irregularity — Examine for any indentions in the borders of a lesion.
(C) Color — Look for different colors in spots such as blacks, browns, tans, and even blues and reds.
(D) Diameter — If the diameter of the spot is bigger than the diameter of the eraser end of a pencil, then the time is right to ring your dermatologist.
Now comes all the prevention advice that takes all the fun out of life. There’s always a Debbie Downer in the crowd, and I’ll gladly play her part today. Feel free to ignore all of it. My nihilist friends out there know it’s just not going to matter anyway. My pretty little Pollyannas out there know that Glinda the Good Witch would never let something horrible happen to them. You other folks should probably jot down the notes I’m going to place up on the chalkboard.
Here they are:
• Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Slather on the sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
• Use waterproof lotion if you plan on engaging in water sports (not that kind of water sports, you sicko).
• Wear a hat.
• Wear sunglasses.
• Wear a shirt and leave something for the imagination.
• Seek out the shade.
• Be wary even on cloudy days, when those UV rays are still skulking about.
That concludes today’s lesson in Skin Protection 101. Let’s put it to use on a field trip. Grab your board shorts, the beach ball and the cooler, and let’s load up the convertible. And don’t forget the Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30. It’s gonna be a great day with plenty of sun … and you’ll be ready for the fun!

This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy with tan hopes and pale skin. That guy slathered in lotion is Ron Blake and he can be found glistening at

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