4:55 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Dermatologist Urge Americans to Practice Safe Sun Exposure

According to dermatologists, sun bathing damages skin cells. They say the the cumulative effect can result in a person being diagnosed with skin cancer when they are an adult.
Credit wikimedia / wikimedia

The prevalence of skin cancer appears to be growing in the United States. So to increase public awareness of the dangers of skin cancer and of different ways to prevent it, the American Academy of Dermatology has dubbed May 6 as Melanoma Monday. Ultraviolet light causes melanoma and people with fairer skin are more at risk. But dermatologists warn even people with darker skin are susceptible to developing skin cancer.

Dr. Zoe Draelos practices dermatology in High Point at 2444 N Main Street. She says many people have a misconception about tanning. “A suntan is actually a sign of skin injury. When you burn yourself on the oven, the first thing that happens after the blister goes away is your skin turns brown” explains Dr. Draelos. “So while we have made tanning a sign of health and leisure, tanning is actually a sign of skin damage. And the majority of skin cancer is related to the accumulative sun exposure that an individual gets over their entire lifetime.”  As a result, Dr. Draelos says a person’s skin cancer may not show up until they’re in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s. She also says one of the most common mistakes is when people ignore changes in moles or sores on their skin. “Change is one of the most important factors to observe in a mole,” says Dr. Draelos. “So if you have a mole that is developing new colors are fingers of pigment, it’s possible it could be a melanoma.”

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, this year almost 9,500 people will die of melanoma. So to protect yourself from developing skin cancer, Dr. Draelos recommends:

*Wearing sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and reapply it every two hours.
*Wearing a hat or visor when out in the sun.
*Sitting under an umbrella
*Avoid tanning beds
*Stay out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Dr. Zoe Draelos explains the dangers of tanning.