Skin Matters: Take precautions this summer
This summer, let the steaks and hot dogs on the grill be the only things doing the sizzling. Taking proper precautions before getting out in the sun means you won’t turn yourself into a crispy critter, which not only carries the effects of premature aging, but can even lead to death from skin cancer.
“Skin cancer, caused by too much sun, is the most common form of cancer in the United States,” said Dr. Kimberly Redding, director of the Georgia Department of Community Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Programs. “The risk of developing skin cancer can significantly be reduced by protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays through wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen.”
The DCH reports that more people are developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. Each year an estimated 1,709 new melanoma cases are reported in Georgia.
“If you live in Atlanta, it’s important to realize that we are on the same latitude as parts of Africa,” said dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Abbott of Atlanta’s Skin Aesthetics Med Spa and Laser Center. “This means Atlanta’s sun can be very intense, especially in the summertime.”
Staying out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest, is the best way to stay safe. But, sometimes that’s not possible. Therefore, experts advise, everyone should wear sunscreen every day. Reapply every two hours and after swimming and sweating.
Abbot said the recommended SPF relates to the UVB protection (burning rays) not the UVA protection (aging rays). “I tell patients to use an SPF of at least 15 daily, but very fair skin types should use an SPF of 30.” Sunscreens are made of blocking or chemical agents, but Abbott said the most important non-chemical blocking ingredient to look for is micronized zinc oxide.
Hats, sunglasses and sun protective clothing, like long-sleeved swim shirts and sarongs are indispensable at the beach or long days at the lake, she noted.