The ABC’s of summer skin care

Jonathan Kaupanger
July 03, 2018 - 1:21 pm

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Summer is here and the sun is HOT so it must be UV Safety Awareness Month!

There are two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. The one that can prematurely age your skin is UVA. It also causes wrinkles and sunspots and can pass through windows. The other type, UVB is blocked by window glass, but it’s the main cause for sunburn. Both are potentially dangerous.

“When it’s this hot and it’s this warm and there’s lots of sun, stay indoors,” says Dr. Mary Maiberger, Chief of Dermatology at the Washington D.C. VAMC.  Dr. Maiberger suggests you stay inside when the sun is the hottest, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If you do need to go out, wear sunscreen, protective clothing and find shade when possible. Wearing hats and drinking plenty of fluids helps too.

Dr. Maiberger says you don’t have to be a dermatologist in order to spot trouble on your skin. When looking, just remember the ABDCE’s of Melanoma.

  • A = Asymmetry. If you have brown spots or moles, look for irregularity in the mole. If one side isn’t equal to the other half, go see your doctor.
  • B = Border Irregularity. If there’s an uneven border, go see your doctor.
  • C = Color variation. If a mole or spot isn’t just brown, if you have red or light colors mixed in, this should concern you and you should go see your doctor.
  • D = Diameter.  A mole shouldn’t be larger than the size of a pencil eraser.  Anything larger, go see your doctor.
  • E = Evolving. If you notice a mole that looked one way, but looks different now, you should go see your doctor.

If you have a spot that’s red in color or one that’s scaly, tender, won’t heal and at times bleeds spontaneously, this could be a sign of a different type of skin cancer. “If you have any growths like that, that don’t seem to be healing or are tender, you want to make sure you bring that to your provider’s attention,” says Dr. Maiberger.

According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people only use half the amount of sunscreen needed to protect themselves. You should apply at least an ounce (a palmful) every two hours. What you pick is essential too. Dr. Maiberger said, “It’s important that when choosing a sunscreen, you want one that’s broad spectrum, meaning that it’ protects against both UVA and UVB rays. You’ll also want to look for the SPF or sun protection factor number to be 30 or higher. And water resistant is helpful.”

You can learn more about picking sunscreens, preventing skin cancer and everything you ever wanted to know about sun poisoning here.    

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