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Section II–Playing It Safe - Skin Safety

HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide

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 Section II–Playing It Safe

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Skin Safety

The skin is your body’s largest organ. It
protects your internal organs from environmental irritants, infections, and
ultraviolet light; all of which can be harmful. Take good care of your skin
so it can do its job. Keep your skin clean and protect it from injury. (See
Skin Injuries”)

Protect Your Skin From
Sun Damage

Do you look forward to semester breaks so you can relax in the sun and
get a tan? Many students do. A suntan looks good, but it is a sign that your
skin is trying to protect itself from damage. Be especially careful not to
get sunburned. In fact, you should never get sunburned! It can lead to
premature aging, wrinkling of the skin, and skin cancer. (Be extra cautious
if you have a family history of skin cancer.) Even if you are not concerned
about these problems now, the pain and blisters that come with a severe
sunburn can make spring break unbearable.

The risk for sunburn is increased for persons with fair skin, blue eyes,
red or blond hair, and for persons taking some medicines. These include
birth control pills; some antibiotics, such as tetracycline and sulfa drugs;
and Benadryl, an over-the-counter antihistamine.

To Prevent Sunburn

Avoid exposure to the midday sun (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. standard time or
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daylight saving time).
Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30 or more
when exposed to the sun. The lighter your skin, the higher the SPF number
should be. Use a “broad spectrum” sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB
rays. Apply the sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you go out in the sun.
Use about 2 tablespoons to adequately cover all exposed body parts.
Reapply sunscreen every 60 to 90 minutes, even if the sunscreen is
Along with sunscreen, use moisturizers, makeup, lip balm, etc. that
contain sunscreen. Use water-based ones if you have acne.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and long sleeves.
Wear clothing with sunscreen protection or muted colors, such as tan.
Bright colors and white reflect the sun onto the face.
Wear sunglasses that absorb at least 90% of both UVA and UVB rays.

Tattoo and Body
Piercing Safety

You may already have one or more tattoos and/or area(s) of your body
pierced. You may be thinking about getting one of these procedures done as
a way to fit in and look like others; as a way to express your
individuality; and/or to get noticed. Before you get a tattoo or a part of
your body pierced, consider the following:
In many states, the law does not allow minors to get tattoos. Find out
about this in your state.
Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit serious
infectious diseases, such as tetanus, hepatitis B, and HIV. Never do one
of these procedures on yourself or have anyone else do it that is not
certified by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) or the
Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT). Certified members are trained
in strict safety and health requirements. Because of the high risk of
infection, you cannot donate blood for one year after getting a tattoo.
Tattoos and body piercings also carry the risk of less serious local
infections. You will need to follow proper care procedures for weeks to
months after the procedure to reduce the risk of getting an infection. You
may also get large growths of scar tissues called keloids.
Tattoos are not easily removed and in some cases may cause permanent
discoloration. Keep a record of the dyes used in the tattoo you get. This
includes the lot number of each pigment. If you choose to get a tattoo
removed in the future, this information will be helpful. Think carefully
before getting a tattoo and consider the possibility of an allergic
reaction. Know that it is expensive, too, to get a tattoo removed. Don’t
get a tattoo or body piercing done on an impulse. Wait at least 24 hours.
In the meantime, read about the things to consider in this topic and see
For Information, Contact” places on this page.
Also, ask your friends who have tattoos and/or body piercings about their
experiences. Find out about the pain involved, the healing time, the cost,
Visit several tattoo parlors to see whether the tattooist follows
recommended safety guidelines and sterilization techniques, such as using
a heat sterilization machine regulated by the Food and Drug Administration
According to the APT guidelines, these practices should be followed:
  • The tattooist should have an autoclave (a heat sterilization machine
    regulated by the FDA) on the premises.
  • Consent forms (which the customer must sign) should be handed out
    before tattooing.
  • Immediately before tattooing, the tattooist should wash and dry his
    or her hands thoroughly and put on medical latex gloves, which should be
    worn at all times during application of the tattoo.
  • Needle bars and tubes should be autoclaved after each customer. Non-autoclavable
    surfaces, such as pigment bottles, drawer pulls, chairs, tables, sinks,
    and the immediate floor area should be cleaned with a disinfectant, such
    as a bleach solution.
  • Used absorbent tissues should be placed in a special
    puncture-resistant, leak-proof container for disposal.
For body piercing, to avoid allergic reactions and infections, jewelry
made from non-corrosive, non-toxic metals should be used. Examples are
solid 14K gold (not gold-plated), niobium, surgical stainless steel, and
After the procedure, follow the skin care guidelines provided by your
skin piercer or tattooist. Care of the site will depend on its location
and/or the procedure you had done

For Information,

For Sun
Safety -

The Cancer Information Service
800.4.CANCER (422.6237)

What You
Need to Know About Web Site
- Tattoos/Body

6th edition. American Institute for Preventive Medicine
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The content on this website is proprietary.

December 08, 2005