This weekend I stepped outside and came to a quick conclusion. It's getting darn hot out there and the Sun can be relentless. Just a few minutes outside was enough to make my cheeks a little red. In just those few moments I realized that I should have protected my skin from the damage that the Sun and UV rays cause.

For those of us that work indoors, we really don’t consider how much damage the Sun can do to us in the short time we spend in our cars, walking in from the parking lot or the like. Yet, regardless of how little time you spend outside, you need to consider applying sunscreen.

As golfers, we spend a lot of time in the elements subjecting our skin to tremendous danger. If you don’t already take precautions to prevent skin damage, the time to start is now! It’s time to pay attention to your skin, make an effort to protect it, and allow yourself a healthier future.

For those of us that work outside or play outdoor sports applying sunscreen to your face, neck, arms and so forth hopefully has become as routine as brushing your teeth or putting on deodorant. With sunscreen now available in convenient sprays and sticks, it’s easy to apply quickly and without getting your hands greasy.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime and more than one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Statistics show that nearly every hour someone in America will die of melanoma. Of all cancers, skin cancer is the most common and nearly half of all Americans who live to age 65 will develop skin cancer. These are scary numbers. Fortunately, skin cancer is the easiest to prevent and cure if detected early.

The key to preventing and curing skin cancer is early detection and use of sunscreens to protect your skin. The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change in the appearance of the skin, such as a new growth or a sore that will not heal.

Studies show that just one sunburn will double your risk of developing skin cancer. Children are especially at risk. On average, anyone under the age of 18 has three times the Sun exposure of an adult.

Melanomas are especially deadly as they tend to spread quickly throughout the entire body. Basal and Squamous cell cancers are much less deadly, but can leave your skin scared.

When you know that you are going to be spending time outside, you should apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to your activity. It’s also best to reapply every two to three hours or immediately after getting out of the water. While any sunscreen is better than none, experts recommend using at least a 30 SPF rated sunscreen.

Something many people forget to protect is their lips. We now have lip balm with sunscreen available to us. Just as your lips can dry out and chap during the winter, they can also burn from the Sun at any time during the year.

As golfers, we tend to ignore the Sun, especially when it isn't too hot outside. We feel that a simple cap or riding in a cart protects us from the worst the Sun has to offer. This simply isn't true. In fact, as much as 80% of the Sun's rays penetrate clouds, mist and even fog.

Sun damage causes premature aging, wrinkles, age spots and dry skin. None of us want to age, much less age faster than nature intended. Look at some of the older guys on Tour and you can tell which ones spent years without protecting themselves.

The most often used excuse for not putting on sunscreen is that it will leave your hands greasy and make gripping the club difficult. Companies have found ways for us sports-happy people to apply sunscreen without dirtying our hands. Sprays are one of the most convenient methods for application. I happen to prefer the stick. It never touches my hands, I am not inhaling whatever it uses to propel the product from the can and goes on with just a swipe. I feel that I get better coverage with it and it fits neatly into my bag.

For extra protection for your face, neck and ears, wear a hat with a wide brim, not a baseball-style cap. There are even special clothing products available to keep your body cool, while covering your arms and neck.

Our world is changing and whether you believe in "Global Warming" or not, you must remember to protect your skin.

We all want to live long, healthy lives. If you suspect that you have already damaged your skin from Sun exposure or your skin shows any warning signs, by all means, visit your doctor or dermatologist for a check up.

James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at stammergolf@yahoo.com.

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