Sun Protection 101 with Dr. Marguerite Germain

Sun Protection

Here comes the sun in the Lowcountry!

As summer approaches, it is vitally important to understand sun safety and the risks from excessive sun exposure. Your skin is the largest organ in your body; overexposure to the sun, especially when skin is burned and blistered, can be dangerous. Ultraviolet, or UV Rays, damage DNA in the skin and cause atypical cells to grow. These abnormal cells can divide and form cancer cells. Statistics show that one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the United States. The most dangerous type of skin cancer, melanoma, has a 99% survival rate when detected early. Having 5 or more sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk of Melanoma. The two most common forms of skin cancer, Basal Cell, and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, are highly treatable if detected early and treated properly. Annual skin cancer screenings are essential to early detection!

What are common symptoms and treatments for skin cancer?

The most common symptoms are lumps, bumps, and scaly spots on exposed areas, which are growing, changing, not healing, and even bleeding. The most common treatment is complete surgical excision of the affected area, leaving cancer-free margins. Other treatments include cryotherapy, Mohs surgery, superficial therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy. To avoid these invasive procedures, check your skin for changes in shape, color, or size of skin growths. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin checkup.

You have a great chance for a full recovery if skin cancer cells are found and treated early. In fact, 90% of basal cell skin cancers are cured. You will still need to follow up annually with a dermatologist to ensure the cancer does not return.

What can you do in your daily life to prevent sun damage?

Everyone should begin seeing a dermatologist at an early age to be properly screened for sun damage and evaluated for any potentially dangerous moles. You are never too young or too old to practice good skin health habits and protect yourself from sun exposure.

  • Avoid the mid-day sun. Go out early in the morning or late afternoon/evening.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing including a hat with a three-inch brim, and wrap-around sunglasses to protect the eyes.
  • Apply and reapply an adequate quantity (golf ball-sized amount) every two hours of at least SPF 30 sunscreen. Don’t forget the tops of feet, backs of hands, and ears.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible.
  • Everyone should be extremely careful about sun protection at the beach, pool, or on a boat, because of the reflection of dangerous sun rays.
  • Stay away from tanning beds.

The damaging effects of the sun are cumulative over your entire lifetime. The skin remembers every second you spent in the sun from the time you were born. That is why sun protection and developing smart sun-safety habits are so vitally important.

What sunscreen products should you use?

I recommend using mineral/physical sunscreens with Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide, and Iron Oxide. These sunscreens provide the best protection from the harmful effects of the sun. Mineral sunscreens work best to protect yourself versus products with mainly chemical ingredients. It is important to apply sunscreen daily regardless of weather, or potential sun exposure.

I recommend my very own Germain Dermatology Sunscreens. We have a variety of options such as “Super Sheer Physical Sunscreen”, and multiple tinted sunscreens which all provide maximum coverage.

Some of our most popular Germain Dermatology sunscreens are:

  • Sheer + Clear SPF 50 – an oil-free sheer sunscreen with 14.5% Zinc Oxide.
  • Sheer Mist Sunscreen – air-powered mineral body spray sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection.
  • Matte Perfection – a tinted moisturizing sunscreen with a matte finish.

Be proactive about skin cancer and its implications. Make an appointment or consultation with Germain Dermatology at https://germaindermatology.com/, call the office at 843-881-4440, or text us at 843-865-2999 on our HIPAA-compliant messaging system.

See you soon to take the best care of your skin!

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