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Veterans Health Administration

The Sun is NOT Your Friend!

The sun

A mid-day sun shines over West Texas

woman applying sunscreen to her shoulder

Check yourself every week. Examine your skin from head to toe and get a yearly exam.

The VA hospitals in the Southwest Health Care Network pay very special attention to skin cancer. Their hospitals are in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

As a special service during UV Safety Month, we are highlighting here some of their very valuable information to assist Veterans and their families in learning about the risks and dangers of too much sun.

“A ‘healthy tan’ is an oxymoron.”

We encourage you to follow these links to their feature stories and important descriptions of symptoms, warning signs and treatment.

This Phoenix VA story notes that a “healthy tan” is an oxymoron and explains the types of skin cancer.

The Albuquerque VA’s article encourages covering up to avoid sun exposure. Ken Clare, Physician Assistant in the Dermatology Clinic, points out that New Mexico has a lot of elevation — 5,000 feet in Albuquerque — resulting in a lot of sun exposure.

The American Cancer Society’s prevention techniques are the focus of this story on the Amarillo VA web site. Are you familiar with Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap?

El Paso VA offers prevention tips and explains how to tell if a spot on your skin is dangerous. There’s even the sequence for what to put on first if you use sun screen and cosmetics.

From the Big Springs VA in West Texas, a reminder that dermatology services are available within the Department of Veterans Affairs and VA doctors are experts in preventing more serious skin conditions if detected early.

What is a carcinoma? This story from the Prescott VA describes the three types of carcinomas: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Basal cells are the most common.

Melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin disease. The Tucson VA describes the four major types of melanoma: Melanoma can appear on normal skin, or it may begin as a mole or other area that has changed in appearance.

Again, July is UV Safety Month. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation. UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells.

The CDC offers a very thorough explanation of UV.

Summertime…and the living is, well, risky if you’re out in the sun too much. Please take the time to read these articles. Print them, save them. They could save your life one day.