Woman's skin cancer Facebook post resonates at the beach - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Woman's skin cancer Facebook post resonates at the beach

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Now is the time you really need to focus on protecting your skin from the sun, and one woman's story of skin cancer is sparking awareness across the country.

In our area especially, dermatologists see more cases of skin cancer, because we've got sun and sand and lots of it. It's so easy to go outside and think one coat of sunscreen is enough, but dermatologists say it's not.

Fewer things drive home that point better than a visual, like the story of Tawny Willoughby, whose face went viral this week on Facebook. She has had skin cancer, starting at age 21. Now at 29, she shared shocking photos of what her skin cancer treatment makes her face look like.

More than 68,000 people have shared her original post, which is what she wanted: to show people how real and damaging irresponsible sunning can be, whether from going to the tanning bed or not using sunscreen outside.

"Oh wow…you don't think anybody that young would have it that bad,” said local beachgoer Mary Clemons when shown the photo. “You know, and sometimes young people think they're invincible. I mean, it's like it would never happen to them."

Willoughby's message is that it can.

Dermatologists say in Horry County, with the beach in the backyard and so many retirees who spend all day outdoors, they deal with skin cancer patients more often than they should.

The Environmental Protection Agency says there is no such thing as a healthy sun tan. If your skin pigment darkens after a day at the pool, it's a sign of skin damage.

"I've had basal cell carcinoma, and told by the dermatologist just to stay out of the sun,” Clemons said. “And so definitely, the damage...I didn't realize the damage starts when they're really young. And so the key thing is, is to start when they are little."

The EPA says sunscreen should be applied every one to two hours, more often if you are sweating or swimming.

An SPF 15 sunscreen protects from 93 percent of the sun's UVB rays, and a 30 protects from 97 percent.

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