Skin cancer and paddling

I was recently diagnosed with the non-melanoma type thank god but it’s still a bit scary to hear the word. I’ll have ot removed this month but I’m already thinking about the upcoming paddling season and how I’ll stay healthy.

Would love to hear from someone who also had this problem yet maintained an outdoor lifestyle.

Do you wear special sunblock clothing? Extra powerful sunblock? Or do you now stay inside?


Sun Block + clothes
Just slather on the sunblock (repeated application during day) and use SPF 50 clothing (many retailers)and wear a hat and accept the fact that you’ll likely see more of your dermatologist to treat actinic keratoses (precancerous skin lessions from sun damage). I’ve got a bunch of little zingy’s on my face from too much sun. They come and go, but that’s part of the price of an outdoor life.

Melanoma in family
I paddle, hike, bike, fish, ski, etc., but take precautions when I go out to play. Having one family member die and one in chemo from melanoma will do that to you…

I almost never wear shorts or short sleeves outdoors when the sun is up. There are lots of good options for lightweight breathable clothing that gives decent sun protection. Always a hat, sunglasses, and serious sunscreen on exposed skin. For paddling, it’s easy to cool off by rolling or splashing yourself.

Some of it is just simple behavior changes, like always looking for shady places to stop and rest. If you can, plan outdoor activities for early and late in the day to avoid the midday inferno. And don’t be embarassed to say “excuse me, but I’ve got to get out of the sun”

skin cancer protection
I completely understand how you feel. I had Mohs surgery to remove some squamish cell cancer from my chest this Spring. Here are some of the changes I’ve made that might help you.

I try to stay out of the sun, but won’t give up kayaking. I was more careful this summer, so it was the first summer in my life that I didn’t get a sun burn. I tried to paddle early morning or evening and now love to paddle on cloudy or rainy days. I bought a big adventure hat from Sunday Afternoons and some long light pants. I try to wear boater’s gloves. I wear good sunscreen and keep a bottle of it every where so I won’t foget. I switched to long sleeves. Even when I swim, I wear a long sleeve rash guard. I was really upset at first, but then tried to see the bright side. I splurged and bought some really cute hats from Sunday afternoon, bought some WaterGirl rash guards, and a long sleeve cotton shirt to wear.

I bought my hat after I read a thread on this board about sun protection and you can probably find it. I don’t think skin cancer is the end of kayaking, but it will make you more careful.

blocking the rays
I live in Miami, FL and therefore, I usually paddle many of the areas around South Florida. I also hate wearing sun block. It feels like it clogs up my pores and makes me hotter. It seems like the temperature goes up by 10 degrees as soon as I put sun block on. My solution is to use long sleeve shirts made of polyester. They keep the sun off and actually keep me cooler. I wore a black one (which I thought would be pretty warm) on Tuesday during a 12.7 mile paddle and stayed cool even when the sun was out. In South Florida the sun can burn you very quickly, but so far I haven’t had any problems while wearing these shirts.

Good luck,

Pedro Almeida

Target has these at a good price:

Rit Sunguard

Applying sunscreen and covering up with a T-shirt may seem like complete sun protection, but did you know you’re not really shielding yourself from the damaging rays of the sun? Well, protecting the entire family from the sun’s harmful UV rays has just become easier. By simply adding SunGuard to your laundry, you can transform everyday clothing into sun protective gear with a UPF protection of 30.

SunGuard works by washing an invisible shield into clothing that helps block more than 96% of the sun’s harmful rays from reaching your skin. With the active ingredient TINOSORB® FD, a UV protectant from Ciba Specialty Chemicals, SunGuard can boost the UPF protection of a white cotton T-shirt from UPF 5 to UPF 30.

And, SunGuard is so easy to use! Add one package of SunGuard to a warm or hot water laundry load along with laundry detergent and you wash in skin protection for up to 20 washings. SunGuard won’t change the color or comfort of clothing and is safe for even the most sensitive skin.

SunGuard has been featured on Good Morning America and The Today Show and is endorsed by leading dermatologists. SunGuard also has received the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval as well as the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.

See a good dermatologist regularly
All the advice here is good. It is important to see a good dermatologist regularly. I have a standing appointment each October when I return from two months kayaking and camping in Maine, and I see him between those set appointments when I suspect the pre-cancer coming back. “It is a scaly or crusty bump that forms on the skin surface. They are also called solar keratosis, sun spots, or precancerous spots.”

Go here for more information:

My better half has had at least a dozen squamous cell carcinomas, two malignant melanomas, and a bunch of “Spots of concern” removed over the years.

She used to work on charter sailboats in the Caribbean for years, and also liked to go to the beach whenever possible. Well, now she’s paying the price for it. Not worth it…

Her regimen is to wear sunscreen all day every day, regardless of whether she’s going outside or not. She uses it as a moisturizer now. When we paddle, she wears SPF rated clothes that are long sleeve and have neck protection, SPF 50 or higher from the dermatologist, and a hat with a huge brim.

And she has whole-body skin checks every 6 months. She hasn’t had anything removed in over 2 years, and she’s a year from being declared cured of the melanoma. But that’s no guarantee.

Do everything you can to protect yourself. This problem only gets worse if you don’t.

Stay well!


Had a few friends in the same boat. Scary enough to make me realize I’m outside aplenty to get more than I need of sun. I’ve become a big fan of the Kokatat Destination Paddle shirts and Watership Trading Companie Hats with the dark underbrims.

See you on the water,


Big hat

– Last Updated: Jan-05-07 3:48 PM EST –

I fortunately am olive-complected, so not as prone as some of you palefaces out there, but I don't go out without my boonie hat and lots of SPF-45 sunscreen. I also always wear a shirt paddling. In the last couple of years I have gotten more into wearing light supplex nylon vented longsleeve shirts and pants when paddling. In Texas in August, it can be a little tough to wear anything long, though.

And I wear really thin synthetic biking socks underneath my Keen Taoses. Not only keeps the skin not covered by the straps protected, but also keeps the shoes from smelling.

family history for me too
luckily in the bay area its never really “too hot”, so you’ll always see me in long sleeves with spf protection of 30 or greater, huge hat, sunglasses,gloves. I apply sunscreen a few times per paddle, being careful not to get it on the dry suits latex seals.

Yeah, it sucks, but I am not going to stop going outside. Thanks for the reminder on seeing a dermatologist, I’m over due from last year.


I used to be a ball-cap kind of guy
but then my Dad (who was the same) had two carcinomas removed from his left temple and inside his left ear. I switched to big-brimmed hats, first Sequels when they were being made and now Tilleys.

I have a number of LS polyester shirts (Destination shirts from Kokatat) which I wear almost exclusively. I also bought a pair of fingerless gloves last season, and they seem to be not-too-obnoxious.

Since I am spending more time in solo canoes vs kayaks I will be watching my thighs and calves closely. The idea of wearing long trou in the summer does not appeal to me, so for now I will slather on the sunscreen.


It took me awhile to answer this, cancer is a touchy subject. I do not wear sunblock as Im not sure if it is good for you. I have read from some sources it can possibly cause cancer itself.I go with the big hat and cover up theory. I spend all day in the sun and the clothing doesnt bother me. Eating some foods can help against skin cancer. I have spots on my hands in the summer which my doctor keeps an eye on. I am 18 months cancer free after I had the joy of my stomach taken out lymphs and other parts removed, stapled back together and here I am. I turned down radiation for a better lifestyle and so far so good. Good luck and good health and happy paddling.

skin protecting
Just had some precancer removed from face last week after being very diligent all summer wearing Rail Riders long sleeves and large brim hats. But the reflection off the water is what did me in! So now it’s back to the sunblock which makes me feel hotter and burns my eyes at times but sure beats the alternative of having your face or ears carved off.

So now I remember that even though I avoid paddling at high noon, the reflective death rays off the water at 4 pm are still pretty damaging so this upcoming season I will load up on sunblocks. Hope some of you post the ones that provide the most comfort! Nutragena products feel less greasy but really burn the eyes if it gets in! And that’s where I need to watch is around the forehead and eyes.

NonGreasy Sunblock?
59 years of working and playing in the sun has done irreversible damage to my Irish skin. Over the past 25 years, I’ve had numerous keratoses and several squamous cell carcinomas removed from face, neck, shoulders and hands. I see my dermatologist every 6 months so he can have more fun torturing me with liquid nitrogen, electric needles, and scapel. I would rather die than give up my outdoor lifestyle (and I just might), but I do take all the precautions I can: wide brim hat, thin, long-sleeve shirts, and sunscreen. I hate sunscreens because they are all greasy and icky feeling regardless of how they advertise. Some have gotten better though, such as Coppertone Sport and Bullfrog which are less greasy. Still, all sunscreens brag that they contain moisturizers. When it is 90+ degrees and I’m sweating like a pig, the last thing I need is a moisturizer. If anyone knows of a truly greaseless sunscreen, please let me know.

we all must die but M3 (metastatic
malignant melanoma) is not the way to go, its preventable in 99% of cases…excellent points made about prevention on the outside, but think about this…each of us gets cancer every day and our bodies deal with it…you can prevent with blocks and clothing and time of day, this is prevention from the outside; you can also constantly treat from the inside- eat healthy, know that beans (almost all types) and green leafy veg’s have those sublte phytochemicals that defend the skin. Eat foods you know are stocked with free radical fighters and avoid foods that only promote free radicals (fats turn rancid even in the body, rancidity is radicals on the loose).

Know that sun damage is cumulative and its hard if not impossible to reverse severe damage.

About a month ago I cut off a growth on my arm, in 2 weeks it returned…went to the pros and had the re-growth sent to the path lab…lucky, only a pyogenic granuloma…

sounds interesting
this looks promising, but 6-8 weeks for delivery?

I had some precancer
taken off my face about 20 years ago and reluctantly changed the way I spend time in the sun. I never liked wearing sun screen, sunglasses or hats and now they are part of me when I am exposed to the sun. I try not to be in the sun during the middle of the day and always use sunscreen and a wide brim hat whenever I am exposed to the sun. Some people who have not had precancer removed from them might think I am a bit goofy but thats okay. I always wear a long sleeve shirt also when I paddle and roll to cool off. Your attitude about fashion changes quite a bit when the doctor says the C word to you.

From my own recent experience…
Skin cancer sucks! I had a melanoma removed from my back late last summer, a good hunk of meat and skin as well. It was a scary ordeal, but once the path from the lymph nodes came back negative I felt somewhat relieved.

Do I stay out of the sun? No way, and down here we get the sun and high uv index as well. Just cover up, wear sunscreen and a hat, and as mentioned earlier see a dermatologist regularly. Catching this stuff early is key, especially melanoma, bad sh@t for sure.

As far as sunscreens go, the best stuff out there is called Blue Lizard. It’s Austrailian stuff. It is far superior to anything in the US currently. Melanoma is occuring in near epidemic levels down under, sun worshiping culture and a lot of white people. I don’t want ot go into why its better, but google Blue Lizard and make up your own mind. The only down side is that it is hard to find and a bit more expensive, there are several online sources.

I’ll try the Blue Lizard…

– Last Updated: Jan-06-07 5:24 PM EST –

I've always liked Aloe Gator and Bull Frog, but I'm going to try Blue Lizard. Do you use the Sport formula for increased water resistance or the regular?