Pullman's first sweltering weekend of 2012 has come and gone, leaving behind students who more closely reflect the crimson in our school’s color palette.
Most of us fell victim to one of the classic blunders: daring to expose our previously sunless skin to the big bright ball in the sky. Until recently, this ball meant nearly nothing in terms of heat, but this weekend it pulled out all the stops (just in time for the most stressful week of the semester, of course).
But our skin retaliated, proving that — despite having the pallor of some dead creature — it is very much alive and capable of being seared.
Those of us who did not dip into some good ol’ SPF felt this more than those who did — though sunscreen wearers also suffered similar casualties. Their casualties, however, were less severe.
Perhaps we should take a page from their books and actually use the tube of sunscreen that our mothers snuck into our packing boxes when we moved out.
It’s a lecture we’ve all heard before — “make sure you put on that sunscreen or you’ll get skin cancer.” This is a lecture we all brushed off while laying out our towels and spending hours sprawled in inhuman positions trying to get evenly tanned.
Unfortunately, the naggers and naysayers were right.
The state of Washington is among those states with the highest rate of skin cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 22.2 to 28.1 people per 100,000 have skin cancer. It is the most common form of cancer in our country, with 65 to 90 percent of the instances cause by too much exposure to sunlight.
Despite a tan being a sign of beauty, the CDC says a tan does not mean good health. In fact, in the organization’s online explanation of risk factors of skin cancer, it says that a tan is actually a body’s response to injury. After a sunburn, your skin cells signal that they are hurting and produce more pigment, bringing more melanin to the surface of your skin.
If you are worried, there is still hope to literally save your skin. You can take steps now and during the summer to prevent further damage to your body.
When you do venture outdoors, be sure to apply a healthy dose of sunscreen (the CDC recommends at least 15 SPF or higher) at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it takes about an ounce of sunscreen to cover the average human body.
This is where all those shot glasses come in handy. So pick your least favorite one and use it as your guide for total sun protection coverage.
If this column has really scared you into submission, you can also protect yourself through your clothing choices. Pulling loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts or baggy pants out of your drawers will help keep the sun off your skin, while still allowing you to be cool in the blistering heat that only summer can provide.
While I’ve already accepted that I’m doomed for cancer from all that sun exposure as a child, you may still have a chance. There are options such as good sprays and mists that stray from the smell and the goopiness of the stuff we were all forced to lather on as kids.
Be excellent to yourselves and each other, Cougs!