Whether you’re hanging out with the kids or grabbing a bite with friends, don’t forget to grab the sun block.
Women should start actively protecting their skin early.
“We need to start taking care of our kid’s skin when they’re little,” said Dr. Jonathan Amspacher director of Plastic Surgery for Mosaic Life Care. “The sun burns we get as children are one of the most dramatic affects on our risk of skin cancer as adults.”
Ways to protect your skin.
The right clothing can protect against sun rays.
“The easiest are physical barriers,” said Dr. Kenneth Beer, Dermatologist with Good Samaritan Medical Center. “So, big hats and long sleeves; just physically covering up to shield your skin.”
Experts recommend watching the hours that you’re outside is key. Between 10:30 and 4:00 p.m. are the hours the sun is most intense and that’s when you have the greatest chance for catching UV radiation.
Sunblock vs. Sunscreen.
“Sunblock we think of more as products that block both UVA and UVB rays,” said Amspacher. “Those are the two types of rays that are included in sunlight that cause damage to your skin and DNA. Sunscreen can decrease the amount that gets through. You want to look for a product that blocks UVA and UVB. It will say broad spectrum sunscreen or sunblock, it blocks both spectrums to help prevent sun damage to your skin.”
Women of color.
“They have a much lower risk of skin cancer but it’s not zero,” said Amspacher. They have some native built in protection from the sun by the fact that they have a higher melanin content in their skin. If they’re concerned about protecting from the signs of aging, then they would definitely want to be more protective with the sunscreen. Especially the first times they’re out, early in the year. If their pigment is lighter, they’ll have less protection during those times and be more susceptible to sunburns.”
Adequate protection is important.
“SPF is the sun protection factor,” said Amspacher. “You want to have at least a 30 or higher. You want to remember to re-apply it every two to three hours. I always recommend if the skin will tolerate it to use products that are waterproof.”
Location plays a part with SPF.
“Obviously, being in Hawaii is different than being in Chicago,” said Beer. “You have to have a little bit of common sense. “The lighter the skin the higher the number. So, the higher the number, I think the better.”
Know what warning signs to look out for.
“There are a couple of things to be on the lookout for,” said Amspacher. “The most common types of skin cancer are basal and Squamous cell skin cancer. If you have something that won’t heal over a four-month period of time it could represent a skin irritation or inflammation and probably warrants being looked at by a doctor.”
For the more serious types of skin cancer which is called melanoma, you want to think about the A.B.C.D. E’s of skin cancer:
A- is for asymmetry. If one half looks different from the other.
B- is for border. If the border is rough irregular or jagged, square or unusually shaped.
C- is for color. If it’s really dark brown or black, if it looks different from your other pigment of spots that catches our attention.
D- is for diameter. Lesions that are bigger than the head of a pencil eraser.
E- is for evolution; the most important. We all have spots, moles, freckles, but when you have one that’s changing: it’s getting larger, getting darker, getting more bizarre, changing shape, those are the things that catch our attention.
Taking sun exposure seriously.
“We don’t realize what the sun is,” said Amspacher. “The sun is Ultraviolet Radiation. What we do over our lifetime is accumulate exposure of ultraviolet radiation. So, when we’re young our skin and our genes start out pure. As we age we get more errors in our DNA. The more sun exposure that we get without protection, increases the amount of ultraviolet radiation damage to our DNA. Once we accumulate enough damage to our DNA that’s when we have the higher risk of skin cancer.”