Got Skin in the Game?
Article Date: Aug 1, 2012

Amy Robinson, PA-CHey sports fans, it just got easier to protect yourself from sunburn – and worse – at the ballpark.

Sunscreen stations have been installed at Werner Park in Papillion, giving Omaha Storm Chasers fans a chance to smooth on some SPF 30 before the first pitch. Here's the rub – you need to reapply sunscreen after a few innings, too.

Many fans apply sunscreen before coming to the ballpark, but they tend to forget that it wears off, says Amber Leed Kelly, community outreach coordinator for the Alegent Health Cancer Center.

"A game can last three to four hours, and if you're sitting in the sun and sweating, you need to reapply every hour and a half," said Leed-Kelly. "Even during an evening game, there can be very little shade. While you sit there, you need to reapply, reapply, reapply."

Skin cancer is the one of the most preventable forms of cancer in the United States, says Amy Robinson, PA-C, a physician assistant with Alegent Health Clinic Dermatology.

"We are trying to raise awareness that skin cancer is so prevalent that you need to take precautions," said Robinson. "This includes using sunscreen, especially during peak hours for sun exposure, and getting into the shade."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to release new guidelines next spring for sunscreen packaging that include using labeling terms like water-resistant instead of waterproof, said Robinson.

When it comes to their children, parents do a great job of covering the tykes with sunscreen when they get to the game, said Leed-Kelly. With a sunscreen station now located near the Kids Zone, parents can reapply sunscreen now for their children and themselves.

"For the most part, I see that parents try to do better for their children than they did for themselves," said Robinson. "Adults see the damage that sun has caused them, and they try to instill in their children the understanding that this is preventable."

Chasers mascots Casey and Stormy are well-protected from the sun, but the rest of us should visit a sunscreen station at Werner Park.

This effort to promote sun-safety behaviors to the Omaha Storm Chasers fans, ball players and staff was funded by a $10,000 Nebraska Cancer Coalition grant. Alegent Health is also working with the American Cancer Society and Alegent Health Clinic Dermatology on the effort.

Alegent Health will survey fans again at the end of the season to learn how many adopted sun-safe behaviors at the ballpark: wearing long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses and hats; staying in the shade; and, of course, reapplying sunscreen.

Other minor league ballparks in Florida and Iowa are also doing skin cancer prevention programs this season, said Leed-Kelly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is driving home the need to reapply sunscreen in all sun-drenched settings, having heavily researched evidence-based practices for sunscreen use at swimming pools and national parks.

"A change is easier when your entire environment supports it, so we need to look for changes in policy, environment and systems to support the sun-safety behavior change, said Leed-Kelly.

As always, prevention and early detection of skin cancer is critical. AHC Dermatology often holds free skin cancer screenings – ranging from answering concerns about a specific area to complete skin checks – in the community, noted Robinson.

"We help people become more aware of what is on their body, and most want to know if it is normal or not," said Robinson. "If we suspect skin cancer, we encourage them to go to a dermatologist and get it treated."

Sign up for the next free skin cancer screening on Saturday, Sept. 15, during the Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center Health Fair.


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Related Links
Alegent Health Clinic Dermatology

Amy Robinson, PA-C

Alegent Health Cancer Center