Summer will soon be here. With the advent of warmer weather, more people are spending time outside, soaking up the sun.
Experts say if you do not prepare yourself, this comes at a risk: skin damage.
Even African-Americans should be concerned. Without the proper preparations, there is not only the chance of sunburn, but there is an increased risk of skin cancer and skin damage that includes wrinkling.
According to dermatologist Dr. Christopher Obeime, ultraviolet (UV) B rays tend to cause sunburns because they hit the skin more superficially. UV A rays go deep and can cause wrinkling and UV BA rays make the skin burn in addition to increasing the risk of skin cancer.
“Sunburns you got 20 years ago might be the cause of your cancer today,” Obeime said.
The three common types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Basal cell is the least cancerous, and the most cancerous is melanoma, which causes the most damage. Squamous falls in between the two.
Obeime said to protect the skin, use sunscreen daily, no matter the weather. Even if it is cloudy or rainy, UV rays can penetrate the clouds.
“Reducing sun exposure and adding SPF 30 daily are the most preventable risk factors for skin cancer. Whether it is cloudy or sunny. Whether you are Black or white. It is the best thing you can do to prevent skin cancer,” Obeime said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61,061 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin in 2010. Blacks had the lowest rate of getting skin cancer.
Even though African-Americans are less likely to get skin cancer than Caucasians, Obeime warns that African-Americans usually get it in sun-protected areas, and it usually is much worse.
He said when buying sunscreen look for Broad Spectrum SPF 30 or higher to protect the skin and reapply regularly. People should wear sunscreen during the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Obeime warns though there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, however there are some sunscreens that are water resistant.
Anything you put on, then enter a pool, most likely has washed off, so you need to reapply he said.
Not only should people use sunscreen but also sometimes avoid the sun or wear protective clothing such as long sleeves or a hat.
“When your shadow is shorter than you, you should seek shade,” Obeime said.
This means the higher the sun is in the sky your shadow is shorter, and the sun is more dangerous. If the sun is at an angle and your shadow is long, the worse of the UV rays have passed.
When looking for symptoms of skin cancer, melanoma is typically a pigmented lesion. If someone believes they have damage from UV rays, they are instructed to consult their physician.
For more information about skin protection and skin cancer, visit the American Academy of Dermatology association at AAD.org.
Obeime says look for the ABCDEs of moles:
(A) is it asymmetric? That means if you were to divide the lesion in half and one half is different, that is a bad sign.
(B) how are the borders? The more irregular the borders the worse it is.
(C) colorization? The more colors in the mole the worse it is.
(D) diameter grade bigger than 6 mm? The bigger it is the worse it is.
(E) is it evolving? This is what Obeime says is the most important. If the mole is changing like bleeding or gets elevated, that is dangerous.
He advises if you have two of these you should visit your doctor.