Protecting Your Skin This Summer
While the warm sun may feel good on your skin, it’s important that you take the right steps to protect it from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays, not just in summer, but all year long. Dr. Kevin Ferentz, GBMC’s chair of the Department of Family Medicine, talked with Bmore Lifestyle hosts Chardelle Moore and Christina Denny about what you should do to lower your risk of skin cancer, as well as the skin damage that causes wrinkles and leathery or discolored skin.
“Around 500,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each year,” Dr. Ferentz explained. “Many of those people are diagnosed with basal or squamous cell cancer, which doesn’t have the ability to spread to other organs. But melanoma can spread throughout the body and damage other organs, which leads to 10,000 deaths in this country each year. The good news is that there are some very simple things you can do to lower your risk of developing any form of skin cancer.”
Among Dr. Ferentz’s top tips for protecting your skin, always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days, try to avoid the sun’s strongest rays between 11 am and 3 pm (a good reason to get to the beach earlier rather than later), and reapply your sunscreen every two hours or after you get wet. He also explained why it’s important to know your ABCDEs when it comes to moles and skin cancer. ABCDE stands for: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution. Be sure to monitor both old and new moles to see if any of these change over time. Visit your primary care physician or dermatologist if you notice anything abnormal. Dr. Ferentz also discussed how to treat a sunburn and how just five sunburns in your lifetime can increase your risk of skin cancer, and why early detection and treatment of skin cancer by your primary care physician or a dermatologist is so important.
For Dr. Ferentz, teaching patients how to lower their risk of skin cancer is personal. He was diagnosed with and treated for melanoma is his final year of medical school. He has also undergone treatment for basal and squamous cell skin cancers over the years. “When I was a kid, there was no sunscreen, so I got a lot of exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Fortunately, I noticed the change in the mole on my back and got it assessed and treated right away. Thirty-five years later, I haven’t had a recurrence. Early detection and treatment saved my life.”