Experts dispel summer skin care myths

Savannah, GA - SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Monday was the summer solstice, the official beginning of summer and the day when the earth's axis is most tilted towards the sun.

That means the most sunshine and the shortest night.

It's time for swimming, sunbathing and boating; but summer is also the season for sunburns. Dr. Claudia Gaughf with the Chatham Skin and Cancer said people should use sunblock with an SPF 30 to protect their skin.

"More than 30 might block a little bit more, but not that much, and it probably doesn't because people aren't applying enough," she said. "This shows the least amount that you should apply, in a small glass like this, and remember that sunscreens do not block 100 percent of the rays, that's a myth."

Gaughf said there are many myths out there regarding sun skin care.

"There is a big controversy about retinyl palmitate, which is a vitamin A derivative. They're saying that the vitamin A in sunscreen can cause melanoma," she said. "The skin cancer foundation and experts have come out and said that there's no scientific data to support that. The other one is about Vitamin D, we're not getting enough vitamin D. Basically, we can get enough Vitamin D in supplements, in our diets that are safer than the harmful rays in the sun."

A day at the beach can have dire consequences. Each year doctors are diagnosing more cases of skin cases.

Gaughf said she sees about 50 cases a year and a majority of those are women.

"This is probably related to women getting out in the sun more than they used to, and tanning beds," Gaughf said. "It's shown that people using a tanning bed have a 75 percent more chance of getting melanoma."

There is a new tool that helps treat the effects the sun can have on your skin over the years, it's called the photodynamic therapy or blue light.

"[It's a] great way to treat pre-cancers over the entire face, and this helps to prevent skin cancer," Gaughf said. "Also, if you've been in the sun, and you just have uneven pigmentation there's wonderful chemical peels, lasers and we'll even that out, although the best treatment is prevention."

Gaughf said people should make sure they get checked by a dermatologist every year.

Possible symptoms of skin cancer:

  • Small lump (spot or mole) that is shiny, waxy, pale in color and smooth in texture
  • Sore mole or spot that bleeds, doesn't heal or becomes crusty
  • Rough and scaly patches on the skin
  • Any new growth that is suspicious
  • He also offers tips on how to minimize the risk of developing skin cancer:

Prevention tips:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing and sunscreen year-round
  • Avoid tanning beds and tan-accelerators
  • Check your skin thoroughly and regularly for changes

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