2008-08-08 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Gardeners Are Risking Skin Cancer
By Danielle McShane Danielle's Rockaway Florist

DANIELLE McSHANE DANIELLE McSHANE We're spending the day on the sand, relaxing in the yard, or gardening, living in this beautiful "beach community" guarantees us as much time as possible in the sun. It is great to enjoy our time outdoors, but we can't forget about a very important factor. Sun damage to our skin is inevitable if we do not take a few extra precautions to protect ourselves. The sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try to do your gardening early morning, or late afternoon. The general rule of thumb is that when your shadowhorter than you are, there is a much higher chance of getting skin damage. We can try our best to stay out of the sun as much as possible, but we can't stay inside all day! If we are to work in the garden in the afternoon, it is very important to cover up! Loose fitting, heavier clothing with a tight knit will help to block the sun from wearing on your skin. I know it will be hard to persuade everyone to cover up because we all want to keep cool when working in the sun, but I urge you then to at least make an important addition to your wardrobe. Pick up a sun hat with a 4-inch rim that goes all the way around so that it will protect your neck, your face, ears, and the top of your head. Top it off with a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection, and a UV lip balm to moisten and protect your lips.Apply sun block to your face, arms, hands and neck fifteen minutes before going outside. Use a sun block with a minimum of SPF15. For skin that burns easily, SPF 30 is recommended. A sunscreen labeled "broader spectrum" will also protect from ultraviolet rays. Reapply every 2 hours, as you are sure to sweat when working in the hot sun. You can actually apply insect repellant over your suntan lotion when it is dry. Check your skin once a month for spots or moles that are growing or changing shape or color. You need to protect yourself from getting skin cancer. Check everywhere! It can form between your toes, under your feet, your face, arms, or neck. They can even grow on an existing mole so keep your eyes open and check your skin thoroughly. I would suggest making an appointment with a dermatologist each year at the end of the summer so that he or she can check your skin for any damage from the sun. Your health is most important, so please make sure that you protect yourself. There is a real risk of skin cancer for gardeners, with all of those years of watering, mulching, and weeding and pruning in the sun, and taking these few small precautions will promise that you may always be able to enjoy such a hobby!

Feel free to write to us at Danielle's Rockaway Florist, 436 beach 129 Street with your gardening questions, or tips for our readers.

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