Summer is Here: Protect Your Skin
With summer finally here in San Diego everybody should be turning their attention to sun protection. More than a million cases of Basal or Squamos Cell Cancers are diagnosed annually in the United States. While these are more easily curable, Melanoma, which sometimes is not as easily curable occurs in greater than 60,000 people annually, and will lead to death in about 8,000 people this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Sun damage can also cause cataracts, pigment changes, wrinkles, and fine lines. Living in southern California where the UV index is an 11+, which is extremely high, protection against the sun is needed in multiple ways. An easy acronym to remember is be sun AWARE- A, for avoid unprotected UV exposure at all times, W, for wear sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, A, for Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater and UVA and UVB blockage, R, for routinely check your whole body for changes, and E, for Educate your family and friends about sun.
So let’s discuss this acronym further! The first and easiest way to protect your skin from sun damage is avoiding the sun, especially during the peak hours of 10AM and 4PM. I am a surfer and love to take my 8 month old daughter to the pool and beach and know it is hard to avoid the sun, but…If you do go in the sun during these hours, it is very important to protect your skin. 80 percent of UV damage from sun exposure occurs in childhood and adolescence, so it is vital to apply sunscreen and take sun precautions in any child greater than 6 months old. Even on an overcast and cloudy day it is important to protect your skin because 80% of UV rays penetrate through clouds.
That leads us to the next topic of wearing sun protective clothing. Most summer clothing offers minimal protection, a wet T-shirt on a swimmer provides at best an S.P.F. of 3; dry, the shirt offers on average a factor of 7. Therefore it is also important to wear licensed sun protective clothing, which blocks more than 97 percent of UVA and UVB. These can be purchased online and certain specialty shops around town. To learn more about these types of clothing, we also offer brochures in our office.
Sunscreen is the third aspect of sun protection, but is not one that should be minimized. There are important items you want to look for in your sunscreen. N umber one is SPF greater than 30 and number two is UVA and UVB blockage. Two ingredients now used in “complete” sunscreens in cosmetically acceptable micronized forms are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Because sunscreens must react with the surface of the skin to be effective, they should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied every 2 hours. Swimmers and those performing intense physical activity should use a very water-resistant sunscreen. But all sunscreens, whether water-resistant or not, should be reapplied after swimming or profuse sweating. And don’t forget to use enough: one ounce, the amount in a shot glass, should be used to cover exposed skin in summer.
Lastly it is of the utmost importance to check your skin regularly for any moles changing, or any new nonhealing, bleeding, scabbing lesions that you may be worried about. When it comes to mole checks, remember your abc’s!!! A-asymmetry, B-borders, C-color, D-diameter (larger than a pencil eraser head), and now E for evolving. We at Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery suggest monthly self exams and yearly Dermatology exams with a Dermatologist, unless you have a history of skin cancer, then we recommend full body skin checks at least every 6 months. It is also important to educate your friends and family about sun protection.
For more information or if you have a mole or lesion that you are worried about and have not seen a Dermatologist, please don’t hesitate to call our office and make an appointment with myself, Darin Martel, PA-C or Dr. Ali Lashgari, Board Certified Dermatologist. You can reach our scheduling department at 760-436-8700 and please mention this article. You can also visit our web site at: www.doctorlashgari.com.