Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States? 1 in 5 Americans will develop a skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early.
Many patients will often tell me that they "do not go out in the sun." What many people don't realize is that "getting sun" is not just from laying out in the sun. Anytime you are outside - going for a walk, run, even those few minutes walking from the car to the store, adds up. Many of us spend time commuting in the car. Did you know the glass only shields you from UVB? UVA penetrates glass and is the wavelength that causes "sun damage."
So, what can you do?
We certainly want you to enjoy your daily outdoor activities and protect your skin at the same time. We recommend that everyone wears SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every day, even in the winter! These days, it is very easy to find a sunscreen containing moisturizer. Ladies - your makeup that contains sunscreen is not enough.
We also prefer zinc-based sunscreens since they need to be re-applied less often unless you are sweating heavily or in the water. If you are active or in the water, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. You need about a shot glass full of sunscreen for your entire body.
Many skin cancers are caused by sun damage but some are not. We recommend that everyone has a baseline evaluation done by a dermatologist. This is especially important if there is a family history of skin cancer. The dermatologist will do a thorough examination of your skin and discuss ways to prevent skin cancer and sun damage. If you have had skin cancer in the past we recommend, at a minimum, an annual full body skin exam.
We also recommend you see a dermatologist if you notice a new, changing, or non-healing spot. If you notice a spot that appears different from others, or itches and bleeds, please schedule an appointment.
Dr. Bonnie Koo, M.D.
May 1, 2018