We are feeling Spring Fever in our offices and are ready to get outside at a moment’s notice. Most of us can enjoy fresh air breaks throughout the day, with the exception of our outstanding Customer Care team, although if they could figure out a way to move all the phones outside I’m sure they would. Most athletes that regularly compete in the sunshine have learned to make sure they have sunscreen in their athletic bags. Skin cancer is still a very big concern among men. And – don’t forget to add coverage to the top of your head and ears, as this is the skin that’s commonly affected on men.
Our skin covers and protects everything inside the body. It helps keep our bodies at just the right temperature and it allows us to have the sense of touch. Your nervous system responds and works closely with the messages it gets from your skin.
The skin is made up of three layers:
1st Layer: Epidermis – the outside layer of the skin. Your epidermis is constantly generating new skin cells. Though you can’t see it happening, every minute of the day we lose about 30,000 – 40,000 dead skin cells off the surface of our skin! That’s almost 9 pounds of cells every year!
2nd Layer: Dermis – you can’t see your dermis because it’s hidden under your epidermis. The dermis contains nerve endings, blood vessels, oil glands and sweat glands. It also contains collagen and elastin, which are tough and stretchy.
3rd Layer: Subcutaneous – this bottom layer is made mostly of fat and helps your body absorb shock and stay warm. It also connects to all of the tissues underneath it.
The nerve endings in your dermis work with your brain and nervous system. Your brain gets the message about what you’re touching – is that the soft fur of a puppy or the rubbery surface of a tire, or the silky lotions of sunscreen?
The nerve endings work with your muscles to keep you from getting hurt. If you touch something hot, the nerve endings in your dermis respond right away – “ouch, that’s hot!” The nerves quickly send this message to the brain or spinal cord, which then immediately commands the muscles to take your hand away. This all happens in a split second, without you ever thinking about it!
But if your one of thousands of men who have a neuromuscular disorder such as spinal cord injury, dysfunction or traumatic brain injury, you may not have complete sensation from your skin, particulalry your lower extremities. In that case, it is especially important to wear sunscreen and keep an eye on the color of your skin. Most sunburns don’t look too bad until a few hours later so its easy to get burned without realizing it!
Your skin is one of the most amazing organs, as it sends and receives messages through your nervous system all the time! It is also the largest organ, and often is taken for granted.
After all, we all like to have fun in the sun! Unfortunately, the best way to avoid the increase in skin cancer is to stay out of the sun all together, and where’s the fun in that?
In Florida we get about 244 days of sunshine a year. Colorado, 245 days. Caribou, Maine a sad 159 days, but it’s possible to still receive skin cancer even without the sunny skies.
Down under, Australians get about 300 days of sunlight in a year. They came up with the following Slip, Slop, Slap, Slide & Seek campaign to protect their skin. And it’s great advice worth repeating.
Slip – on a shirt. Long-sleeved shirts, especially with a SPF rating will help shield the UV rays.
Slop – on some sunscreen. Re-apply waterproof SPF 30 every 2 hours for optimum coverage.
Slap – on a hat. Make it wide-brimmed for maximum coverage to protect the ears and face.
Slide – on some sunglasses. Make them UV-rated and large enough to cover the eyes.
Seek – out some shade. When your shadow is shorter than you, seek some shade. Stay under trees, umbrellas, or indoors during the hottest part of the day.
Fortunately, skin cancer does not need to become an epidemic with a little bit of sun-smarts!
So what’s the largest organ of the body? Your Skin! Now make sure you protect it and always carry sunscreen, no matter what your activity is outside.
And remember to stay hydrated, just like our previous blog posting cautioned, and – HAVE FUN!!