What is the largest organ of your body? Your skin!
But this is a gardening blog you say? Yes indeed! And I write about taking care of your plants – like citrus, or generally everything. But when you are out there in the garden you need to protect your skin from the rays of the sun, because cancer is no joke.
Skin is a complex tissue with a number of different layers, not to mention special types in different areas. Skin cells will keep growing on dividing and growing until the day you die. And this is the issue. Researchers are learning that the more often cells divide, the more likely they are to develop cancer. You may want a tan. That’s okay. A single dose of sun burn is far more damaging to your skin than a slowly acquired tan.
We all know that summer sun is fierce. Don’t be obsessive or paranoid, be sensible. Things like sunscreen, sunblock, UV-lip protector, are just fine, but so are simple physical barriers like sunglasses, a broad-brimmed hat, a white long-sleeve cotton shirt, and best of all, a bandanna.
Remember those Western movies? John Wayne and Clint Eastwood always had their bandannas. The bandanna is a very handy article. It can be worn to protect the neck from sun burn. Dampened and tied loosely around your neck, it helps cool the blood flowing into your brain. You can always untie it and wipe the sweat off your brow. Wear it pirate style to keep hair out of your eyes. Dusty raking job? Wear your bandanna bandit style to protect your lungs. You can use it as a handkerchief when the job is done. (And then wash it!)
Protecting the back of your neck from sun is very important. Chronic overexposure to sun light is the cause of 95 percent of all skin cancers. Skin cancer can grow anywhere on the body, but the areas that have softer skin and greater exposure are the most common sites for skin cancer growth. Thus, along with protection for the back of your neck, protect your face, especially your lips and nose – but don’t forget your ears. A baseball cap is not ideal sun protection. Get a hat with a brim that covers your ears. When it comes to sites for skin cancer, neck, skin around the nose, and the tops of ears are all common sites for skin cancers.
Gardening is a joy, but don’t get carried away. Avoid fatigue. If you get tired while working, stop and rest. If possible, switch to a different task for awhile when you resume work. Fatigue puts you at greater risk for accident and injury, so it is important to take an occasional rest break during your work. Be sure you drink something to replenish your skin and body cells, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Working in the yard or vegetable gardening in a plot — both provide hours of fun, relaxation, and healthy exercise. But you don’t have to do all the hours at one time. Just be safe out there!
Look for my presentations at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press). Note – this is an Amazon link – if you click on it and buy my book I get a few pennies.
© Article copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.