The Department of Parks and Recreation is thrilled to announce that we were awarded sunscreen dispensers and sunscreen as part of the Practice Safe Skin campaign from the Melanoma Foundation of New England. We plan to place one dispenser at the entrance to Signal Bay Waterpark and one at the entrance of the Manassas Park Community Center so that residents of all ages can use sunscreen when playing at the Costello Park ballfields or while attending our summer camps.
Through the Practice Safe Skin Program, we are hoping to educate the community on how important it is to apply sunscreen when you will be outside for extended periods. Not using sunscreen can lead to skin cancers including melanoma. Melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer, but it is the most serious. Simply put, you can get melanoma by spending too much time in the sun without sunscreen.
It does not happen immediately, but it can happen over time. In fact, dermatologists have told many adults who have melanoma that the moles forming now are the result of not using sunscreen products years ago.
Yes, it is true, for some people, too much time in the sun without sunscreen leads to sunburned skin. Too much UV radiation from sun exposure causes normal skin cells to become abnormal. These abnormal cells quickly grow out of control and attack the tissues around them.
If you have fair skin, a family history of melanoma, or many abnormal, or atypical, moles you may be at a high risk for melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma usually looks like a flat mole with uneven edges and a shape that is not the same on both sides. It may be black, brown, or more than one color. Most melanomas show up as a new spot or skin growth. melanoma can also form in an existing mole or other mark on the skin. Most of the time, they are on the upper back in men and women and on the legs of women.
Melanoma can affect your skin and if not treated, it may spread to your organs and bones. Like any cancer, once it finds a small place to start, it wants to expand quickly. Treatment for melanoma works best when the cancer is diagnosed and found early just like with other cancers.
You may not have any symptoms in the early stages of melanoma. Alternatively, a melanoma may be sore that is continuously itchy or bleeds a lot. In addition, if you notice a mole that changes in the shape, size, or color becomes darker, or lumpier, it may be an early sign of melanoma.
We are hopeful that by providing sunscreen for all patrons at Signal Bay Waterpark and the Manassas Park Community Center/Costello Park this summer, we can help reduce the risk of developing melanoma. We also plan to educate all of our school age camp participants about the importance of applying sunscreen daily, even if it is cloudy.
Sarah Barnett is the Operations/Aquatics Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at S.Barnett@ManassasParkVA.gov.