Skin :: Keep skin protected this summer

Dr. Susan Chon, associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, knows adults and teens alike benefit from the seasonal reminder to practice key skin cancer prevention strategies.

A board certified dermatologist, Dr. Chon counsels healthy individuals daily on ways to reduce their skin cancer risk and is full of simple tips for healthy summer skin, including ones not typically known, like those below.

Did you know?

* SPF 30 sunscreen applied incorrectly is actually SPF 20?

Dermatologists at M. D. Anderson always recommend sunscreens SPF 30 or higher, because they have found that the majority of people don’t apply enough sunscreen. According to Dr. Chon, a SPF 30 sunscreen may provide significantly less protection when not enough is used. Don’t know how much to use? Dr. Chon suggests following the American Academy of Dermatology recommendation: one ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.

* Protection from the sun’s harmful rays is just a wash away?

For runners, people who work outdoors and others who are frequently outdoors, Dr. Chon recommends investing in clothing with built-in UVA blockers to provide an extra layer of protection. Many outdoor and sports clothing brands sell lightweight trendy gear that offer up to 50+ UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). Another good option is to wash clothes in a specialty detergent that boosts the UPF of your everyday clothes for up to 20 washes. Dr. Chon notes this great for parents who find it hard to keep constant tabs on their child’s sunscreen habits during long summer days, and can be particularly useful when preparing for summer day and overnight camps.

* Free skin cancer screenings are available?

Research has found even a few serious sunburns can significantly increase a person’s skin cancer risk and that when diagnosed early, skin cancer is easiest to treat. For an individual who’s experienced their fair share of burns and concerned about their skin cancer risk, what is the best way to keep a close watch on any changes that may indicate skin cancer? Dr. Chon gives a trade secret – many national cancer and medical centers, as well as local hospitals offer free skin cancer screening.

May is skin cancer awareness month and readers can check with their local medical centers for possible free screenings in their area.

M. D. Anderson is located in Houston and was designated by the National Cancer Institute as one of the first three Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States. For 4 of the last 7 years, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has ranked number one in cancer care in “America’s Best Hospitals,” a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report. M. D. Anderson has provided care for more than 600,000 cancer patients since 1944.

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