I don’t think there is anyone who is not familiar with damaging effect of sun exposure, but yet a lot of people do not do anything to protect them self. This article is one in series of many articles on the net that warns about this problem, but it can never be enough of reminding people and raising skin cancer awareness.
Anyone spending hours fishing must have experienced sun burns or just coming home red like a chilly pepper, radiating warmth like a supernova. Both is not really good for our health but so many times we are just being lazy to prepare better or to comfortable to wear protection clothes ,put some sunscreen and think about sun protection.
I’m no different, often thinking that I won’t be long so I will just skip that part of boring sunscreen applying. Excuses like it’s not that hot outside, it’s not summer so the sun is not dangerous are also something anyone can resonate with probably. To be perfectly honest excuses are mostly ignorance that nothing will happen to me from single exposure, which is foolish, even more knowing that I’m on a fair skinned side, turned into roasted piglet in a blink of an eye.
Even during late winter kayaking I got sunburn, but sun protection was last on my mind. Its winter, why would I need it for an hour or two of fishing. The fact is , being on a kayak puts you so close to the water, so exposed to both direct sun light and reflections from the water that even a „cold“ winter sun will do the damage, not the speak what happens during the summer when UV –index is at its highest. Those of you fishing from the shore don’t mean that you need less protection, it’s just that being so low on the water, getting reflections from everywhere around you will be even worse. And the biggest risk for a gene mutation and developing melanoma is exactly occasional, sudden exposure that causes sun burns that often happens when fishing.
Fortunately enough this laziness and exposures with lack of protection didn’t cause any consequences and hope they won’t, I’m perfectly fine to be grateful, but last year made me think.
I found 2 weird looking moles in 6 months period on my body and they really scared the shit out me. Sorry my language, but this is the expression that best describes my state of mind than. Everything else became irrelevant; fishing, kayaking, all the plans. Everything was put on hold and weeks turned into years while waiting doctor’s appointment, that biopsy term and finally biopsy results. And it happened 2 times in a short period of time, taking me away few months of enjoyment and replacing them with worrying and having plans on hold while waiting for the results.
Trust me, you suddenly realize that this is not just a disease that is happening to someone else and fear for you and your family kicks in. There is also a fear that you might not be able to expose to a sun anymore and go kayak fishing again if your result comes positive. I know it’s a stupid thought and should be your last thing to worry about if you get positive result, because people die from Melanoma type skin cancer every day, but I believe you can resonate with that kind of worries when you are passionate about something. Thankfully everything was fine, ended up with not common moles that were suspicious and potentially could turn into something bad. I got a slap and a lesson learned that made me take care and plan my fishing trips better. Hope you will start taking care for sun protection better and not wait for potential problems to raise your awareness like I did.
Skin melanoma rates are doubling in last decade, it is the cancer with fastest growing rate of cases in last 30 years and it should be taken seriously because it is the deadliest type of skin cancer, responsible for 2/3 of all skin cancer type deaths and often found even in younger people. On the other hand it’s so curable if caught early enough, which sadly is not the case often. That’s why skin cancer awareness has to be raised. With a problem awareness and adequate sun protection skin cancers are preventable and should not happen as often. Remember that is not happening only to somebody else so please take a precaution and invest in your skin protection before buying all other cool gadgets and upgrades for your kayak.
Except applying your sunscreen on a regular basis, and more than once while you are on the water (which I still forget to re-apply when focused on fishing) consider wearing a protective outwear as your primary UV defense. Not only that UPF (Ultraviolet protection Factor) clothing protects from harmful UV rays, but also looks cool and minimizes sunscreen usage, which you than need only on exposed areas. UPF clothing blocks harmful UV rays almost completely and sunscreen only prolongs your protection before it burns your skin. Protection time depends on SPF number. With that in mind is clearly that UPF clothing is better choice than sunscreen.
Things that I don’t leave on a fishing trip anymore and are basic part of my equipment are:
- Hat – Wide brimmed hat would be best, but I just like baseball cap so I rarely put anything else. Baseball cap will also protect my head from direct UV rays, making head cooler and protecting against the heat stroke. HUK performance makes cool looking, comfortable caps are my favorite.
- UV filtering Polarized sun glasses – Except reducing glare from the water and enabling to see better through the water they also provide UV protection to the sensitive eyes. Once you get used to benefits of polarized glasses you won’t be fishing without them anymore. It’s like fishing blind without them once you start using polarized sunglasses.
- Neck gaiter/face shield – Irreplaceable and single most important item after discovering it. Even if I don’t use it to cover my whole face like a ninja and just have it around my neck solved problem of having my neck burned all the time, no matter the sunscreen because it’s the part that is most exposed, even with clothing on. Gaiters are also UV protective, lightweight, breathable and made from nice soft fabric. It provides full protection for my neck, face, ears and nose and a relief from the burning sun in the middle of the day when I put it on. People might laugh but gaiter became one of the things I don’t go outside without. Since I start wearing it I haven’t had sunburn on my head. Just love them. This beautiful gaiter from HUK except looks offers supreme breathability, enhanced moisture and stain release and anti-microbial properties. Best thing is it is so comfortable that you won’t notice wearing it.
- Long sleeve UPF shirt – With new hi-tech materials except UPF (Ultraviolet protection Factor) clothing is lightweight, comfortable and keeps you cool and vented. An UPF protection keeps you away from harmful sun rays and saves from applying a sunscreen. This way having a UPF shirt saves me from thinking about the sunscreen and gives me worries free fishing without thinking or re-applying a sunscreen or forgetting. Except really cool look of this Pelagic performance shirt they are made with the top materials giving you maximum comfort, breathability, moisture transport to keeps you dry, antimicrobic properties and stain release so you can go for a beer after fishing without worries you will stink like a skunk.
- UPF pants– Even during the summer heat I do not recommend shorts if you plan spending day outside kayaking. Legs being extended in kayak will catch sunburn as easy as any other body part, so long pants and some footwear is a must. Pants made from breathable light materials, with stain release and anti microbal properties providing much more shade and are more comfortable and provide cooler feel than with shorts. Additional pockets found on those kinds of pants make them so practical also
With so many different performance clothing brands and everyone’s budget options there is no reason and excuse to be better protected on you next fishing trip. Take care.