Stay safe in sun, nurse advises


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A campus nurse advices students to use high-SPF sunscreen and skip alcoholic drinks while in the sun. Shown, Ocean City, Maryland, pre-pandemic.

Cristian Perez, Reporter

Students learned the risks of day drinking and other summer sun safety tips during a wellness event last week. 

Cynthia Tawney, a student peer leader with the college’s alcohol and sexual violence prevention program, said drinking and exposure to the sun don’t mix well.  

When you’re out in the sun … you are going to get drunk quicker because it will dehydrate you quicker,” Tawney said. It’s “something to think about when you’re going out and hanging out with friends over the summer.”  

Stephanie Jenkins, a registered nurse with the Health and Wellness Center, emphasized the importance of checking for sun damage to the skin. 

Even on cloudy days, “the sun does still admit all those harmful UV rays,” Jenkins said.  “It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or cloudy. … 80% of those rays can penetrate your skin and it happens very quickly. … That buildup over time is what leads us to skin cancer.”  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, Jenkins said. 

Skin cancer can occur without a sunburn, Jenkins said. “I always was under the impression … you have to burn to get skin cancer, [but this is] absolutely100% false,” Jenkins said. “You can damage your skin within 15 minutes of being in the sun.” 

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends doing athome skin checks to look for sun damage and potential cancers.   

 Jenkins explained how to do a skin check: “Basically look in a full-length mirror [and] look over your body,” she saidLook in your underarms, your forearms, your feet, your palms, all those areas. Look at your legs. Look at the soles of your feet. … Make sure you look in your scalp even [if you] have a full head of hairIf you see something that looks really suspicious, don’t hesitate. Just go to the dermatologist.” 

People should use sunscreen to avoid sun damage, said Jenkins.  

“You need at least a sunscreen that’s SPF-15 or higher,” she advised. 

Dominic Salacki, a secondyear media production student who attended the event, said popular, spraytype sunscreens can be problematic. “You can’t just spray it on your body,” he said. “You have to rub it in, too. 

Jenkins encouraged students to protect themselves by wearing clothing like a hat that covers the scalp and ears or a UV-sensitive sun bracelet. 

UV-sensitive sun bracelets have beads that darken as they are exposed to these dangerous rays. The darkening of the beads will remind people to wear sunscreen or protective clothing, Jenkins said.   

Students can request a free UVsensitive sun bracelet and a tiny packet of sunscreen by contacting the Wellness Center