Here Comes the Sun, it's Time to Cover Up!
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of well-earned patina that includes everything from vintage fly reels to hard-earned smile lines peeking out below silver locks of hair. Lifestyle-related activities and genetics join forces to play a huge role in our aging process; where the patina of an old fly reel, just gets better with time, the angler's skin begins to resemble more and more of the old leather fly wallet in our chest pocket.
Most of us are aware that the majority of our skin damage is done within the first 25 years of our life, but that doesn’t mean we should just throw in the towel and ignore the ever-present danger of skin cancers.
In March, I turned 46, and while I am relatively young, I’ve played hard in the outdoors all of my life and certainly spent more hours than I should lounging poolside, riding 6-10 horses a day in a tank top, and paying good money for all over bronze via a tanning bed in my youth~ costly foolishness I’m now regretting and literally paying for all over again. My first Mohs surgery on my upper lip to remove a minute squamous cell carcinoma stage two ~ occurred just shy of two months ago and the overall bill is just around $3200. To know me over the last 20 years, I’m ever vigilant in covering my face hands, neck, ears, and arms whenever I am in the sun and I see my dermatologist annually.
The facts are clear: if you don't apply sunscreen, and cover up completely, the UV radiation will damage the collagen and connective tissue in your skin. This, in turn, leads to loss of elasticity in your skin, causing wrinkles, saggy and aged skin to appear and lead to various types of skin cancers. If you didn't use sunscreen when you were younger, you may think that the damage is done- that’s not so! - it’s never too late to start protecting your skin!! Ask any dermatologist and they will tell you a good sun safety routine can make a big difference at any age. Regular visits to your dermatologist for check-ups should be as important to you as annual physicals and blood panels.
When you’re playing hard outdoors, it’s difficult to reapply sunscreen as often as necessary. In addition, the chemicals in sun protection themselves can be harmful to your skin as well as to your fly line. The simple solution is to just stay covered up as much as possible. Fortunately, we have many UV fabrics on the market today that provide fantastic sun protection. Any garment that allows less than 2% of UV rays will be labeled UPF 50+, the highest rating available. As a staple when fishing, I wear 2 neck gators (Buffs), long sleeve UPF shirts, and sun gloves (Simms and Damsel) and you will never see me without a hat on when outside.
Please, take the time to properly cover up and protect the largest organ on your body~ your skin!~ and save the good patina for some sweet old click and pawl fly reel.