Working as a dermatology clinician in Green Valley, Arizona, I have the pleasure to meet the most active septuagenarians in the Southern AZ. Green Valley is a retirement community that is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. My patients include tennis players, golfers, cyclists, bird-watchers, hikers, and, new to me, Pickleball players.
Before office hours began one Thursday morning, I stopped by the local social center to watch the Pickleball players in action. This sport appears to be a tribrid of table tennis, bad mitten and regular tennis. The players use a paddle to hit a whiffle ball but play on a smaller size tennis court surface. There’s less ground to cover and if you’re hit with the ball, it doesn’t smart as much.
Former tennis players take to this game naturally, but you don’t have to have tennis experience to learn and enjoy the game. Those non-former tennis players catch on fast and become just as competitive.
As with tennis, these players do endure the intensity of the AZ sun. The cumulative effects of sun exposure (aka solar UV radiation) continue to take its toll on sun-exposed skin: hands, arms, neck, face and ears. Proper cover-up cannot be emphasized enough.
Outdoor enthusiasts do not realized the subtle immunosuppressive effects of the sun on the skin while playing outside. If you’ve accumulated a lot of sun exposure in your lifetime, the DNA in your skin cells has probably incurred damage and your immune system works to repair the damage. However, if your skin’s immune system is suppressed, then it cannot make the repairs. This can incite a mutation and a precancer or skin cancer is born. The older we get, the more sun exposure we’ve accumulated, the higher the risk of skin cancers.
As I sat on the sidelines chatting with the waiting players, many of them had evidence of the ill effects of solar UV radiation: precancers, brown spots, and photo-aged skin. And, many confessed their recent dermatologic history. I gave a few players the PalmFree™SunGloves to try and show them the option to protect the back of their hands without compromising their grip.
As a dermatology clinician caring for a mature population, I never tell them to stay inside. My recommendation is to enjoy the outdoors, play your sport but be smart about it and cover up. Life’s too short, and when you’re on the back nine or final set of life, you must enjoy every moment!
To learn more about Pickleball go to United States of America Pickleball Association, see our ad in the USAPA monthly E-newsletter.