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October 1, 2010 / Dave Gorham

What Happens In Vegas…


The Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas.

Have you heard the one about the Las Vegas Hotel Death Ray? No, really. Guests at the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas may take home a bit more than PG-rated memories if they spend any time at the hotel pool. Though technically not a death ray (which has remained in the realm of science fiction — until the Vdara), the new hotel’s curved glass facade has the peculiar effect of focusing the sun’s light into a beam and directing it to the pool area. It’s been reported that the beam is strong enough to melt plastic cups (be careful where you place your $16.00 piña colada). The effect on your skin may be a bit more long-lasting than the usual Vegas weekend tan.

According to an article from 1934 in Modern Mechanix, the Death Ray is alive and well.

But the risk of sun-related winter skin damage is not limited to the poolside frolickers of the Vdara. Today is October 1st – the unofficial first day of the fall season: the first frost, hay rides, harvest festivals and Halloween are now only a few weeks away. However as the Northern Hemisphere begins to tilt away from the sun, the sun’s rays are not on holiday for the next several months. Weaker and shorter in duration, yes, but we still need to be aware that sun damage (with or without architectural assistance) to the skin remains a threat. Dermatologists recommend sunblock on a daily, not seasonal basis, even though the weather has turned cooler and you’re likely wearing more clothes. Those who put away the sunblock with the first sign of the change of season are more at risk for the development of brown spots on the hands, face and ears (what dermatologists call “hot spots”) and are more likely to develop the red crusted spots of actinic keratoses which can lead to skin cancers such as basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas or even the less common melanoma. Sunlight, by the way, is not the only winter skin hazard. The decreased humidity in many areas leads to dry, flaky itchy skin. Dermatologists recommend drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, using a moisturizer and decreasing (or avoiding) the use of soap which can remove natural moisturizing skin oils.

Neutrogena's Spectrum+. I've had three minor basal cell and one squamous cell carcinomas removed from my face and ears. I've been an all-seasons wearer of sunblock for about five years now.

On a related note: I was in Phoenix earlier this week. Not a cloud in the sky and the temperatures topped 100F each afternoon. Going through the airport security check, guess what TSA confiscated from me? My sunblock, of all things. Though all my “liquids” fit in the standard quart-sized plastic baggie, my tube of sunblock exceeded TSA’s maximum 3.4 ounce size. I felt like I was heading out to cross the Sahara without water.

For more information on skin protection, visit: Centers for Disease Control and SmartSkinCare.

ImpactWeather has blogged about protecting your skin before; you can read it here.

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