Tips to avoid skin damage

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. People of all races get skin cancer. Some risk factors include sunburn, family history of skin cancer, exposure to X-rays, weakened immune systems, burn scars, exposure to cancer-causing compounds such as arsenic, sunlamps and tanning beds.

Every year, more than 8,500 Americans die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. This type of cancer often appears in a mole or as a dark spot on the skin. Sun exposure is one main risk factor for developing melanoma, as well as having light-colored skin.

Penn State Hershey Medical Group—Colonnade in State College, Pa., has two dermatologists, Sara Ferguson, and Dave Shupp, who treat a range of skin conditions and disease, including skin cancer. Click here for more information.

Doctors Ferguson and Shupp will be providing free skin cancer screenings at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College on Saturday, May 12, during skin cancer awareness month. Click here for more information.

Below are some tips for sun safety:

Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, with SPF of 30 or more, to all exposed skin. Broad-spectrum provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.

Seek shade when appropriate, keeping in mind that the sun's rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A good rule of thumb is that you should seek shade if your shadow is shorter than you.

Protect children from sun exposure by encouraging them to play in the shade, and dress them in protective clothing and apply sunscreen often.

Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun and can cause sunburn.

Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.

Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. As an alternative, use a sunless self-tanning product and continue to use sunscreen with it.

Perform regular self-exams. If you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when detected early enough.

Contacts: 
Last Updated May 16, 2012