Understanding the Risks of Sun Exposure in Central Oregon

An Ounce of Prevention: Sun Protection in Central Oregon

By Lizzi Katz

Central Oregon Sun Protection, Sunscreen, Family Activities in Bend Oregon

Living or vacationing in Central Oregon offers a variety of outdoor activities for all ages, from the mountains to the playgrounds and sports fields.  But whether you are out hiking, biking, or just watching from the bleachers, don’t forget that our Central Oregon sun is strong. Making good sun protection part of your daily habit can increase you and your family’s safety for a lifetime of outdoor fun.

Exposure to the sun and its harmful UV rays can lead to wrinkles, freckles and age spots, not to mention more serious problems like skin cancer. Alarming information from the National Cancer Institute shows that Oregon has the fifth highest rate of melanoma—the deadliest type of skin cancer—in the U.S. Deschutes County, with its plentiful sunshine, has the highest rate of melanoma diagnoses in Oregon.

To lower your risk of skin cancer, you may need to change the way you think about looking tan.

Dr. Oliver Wisco,  melanoma specialist and Mohs Surgeon at Bend Memorial Clinic, spends his days helping patients whose skin has been damaged by the sun. “While we have historically related a healthy lifestyle to being tan, science has proven that a tan is really a sign of damage rather than a sign of health. As we become more educated on skin cancer, we know that the color you are born with is the healthiest for your skin.”

The desire for tanned skin persists, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, especially in teens and 20- somethings. This is reflected by soaring melanoma figures, now six times higher for young adults than they were 40 years ago. For our health and the health of our children, experts like Dr. Wisco advocate developing good family habits for our active lifestyles.  No matter the activity or weather, daily sun protection is critical.

Ready to enjoy the outdoors? Don’t forget these tips to protect yourself and your family from the sun’s rays:

  • 3 Apply broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher to any skin not covered by clothing, and make sure you are using enough – use 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen for your entire body, preferably 30 minutes before going outside, even on cloudy days
  • 3 Don’t forget to sunscreen the top of your feet, your ears, the top of your head and the back of your neck
  • 3 Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and sometimes even more frequently, like after swimming or sweating
  • 3 Extra care for kids: Give babies and children extra care in the sun. Ask a healthcare professional before applying sunscreen to children under 6 months old.  Shade, clothing and hats help protect delicate skin. For children older than 6 months, applying sunscreen and protective clothing (think sleeves and hats) every time they go out will start a habit of daily sun protection
  • 3 Seek shade. The sun is the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm

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