As spring turns to summer, the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s UV rays becomes even more prevalent. Junior nursing students Megan Horsell and Kari Wood hosted a Skin Cancer Awareness Day in the Academic Quad on April 19.
Horsell and Wood are both in the honors college and were hosting this event as a part of their capstone project. Also joining them in hosting this event were members of the Student Nursing Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP).
“As members of SNAP, our core goal is to to volunteer and provide support for the community,” said Emily Sapen, president of SNAP.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), one in five Americans will be diagnosed with a form of skin cancer by the age of 70. There are two forms of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. The SCF also reported that basal cell carcinoma, a form of nonmelanoma, is the most common form of skin cancer, causing more than 3,000 deaths per year. Whereas someone with melanoma dies every hour in the U.S., and about 178,560 cases will be diagnosed by the end of 2018.
According to skincancer.org, 18 to 25- year-old females are most likely to use a tanning bed at least once if not more. However, after a single use the chances of getting skin cancer increase by 87 percent.
Horsell and Wood set out to create an event that would make people aware of these statistics and also offer helpful tips for others to protect themselves.
“We are trying to change the attitude and conversation about skin and skincare,” said Horsell.
The event consisted of an information board, coupons for sunscreen, a poster asking people to write why they tan, information sheets and UV detecting bracelets.
The information sheet given out was, “The ABCDE System of Melanoma Detection.” This chart allows people to understand early signs of melanoma in moles so that they can seek proper treatment sooner rather than later. “A” stands for asymmetry, “B” for border, “C” for color, “D” for diameter and “E” for evolution.
The information board educated viewers about a variety of important things to keep in mind to maintain healthy skin. First, they note, the most effective way to apply sunscreen is to put it on fifteen minutes before going outside. They also mention that anyone can get skin cancer no matter how dark their skin is naturally, and a higher SPF does not mean it is more effective or you do not need to reapply. It noted that the best SPF to have is 30; anything lower is not effective and anything higher is essentially just as effective.
“There is a misconception people have about putting on a higher SPF. They think because they put on 100 SPF, they will be good for the entire day outside. But you still have to reapply the same amount that you would do SPF 30,” said Wood.
One fact that prompted the idea of the UV bracelets is that anyone is still at risk to get burnt when it is cloudy. Horsell and Wood provided UV beads and strings for people to make bracelets.
The feature behind these beads was that they are normally white, but become a bright color when exposed to strong UV rays. When the beads turn a different color, it is time to put sunscreen on. It was cloudy during the event, but everyone’s bracelets were changing colors.
“On a cloudy day is when people tend to get burnt the most. You can’t really see yourself getting burnt until it is too late,” said Wood.
Looking to the future, these students are also trying to make prevention and skin care easier for students. One way they are doing this is by working with the university to try and install sunscreen dispensers on campus so that everyone can have access to sunscreen on those random sunny days. Currently, Horsell and Wood are meeting with the Director of University Student Housing to try and put a sunscreen dispenser in the residential quad to start.
“We found that students were not buying sunscreen just because it was one more thing to buy and it can be expensive and run out quickly over time which is why we wanted to get the dispensers on campus,” said Horsell.
“Being tan is not a bad thing, you just have to do it the right way. Being healthy is the most important thing and it is actually healthy to get some vitamin D!” said Horsell.
Mackenzie Haverdink is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. ✉ MH850486@wcupa.edu.