Mary Beth Sallee
Reporter, Hart Co. News-Herald
Everyone who lives in Kentucky knows quite well how hot and humid the climate becomes during summer months. But when it comes to protecting skin from sun damage, many may not realize the type of sunscreen to use or what to look for in possible cases of skin cancer.
Swaran Chani, MD, is the Internal Medicine physician with Med Center Health Primary Care Caverna.
According to Dr. Chani, the number of patients diagnosed with skin cancer are “increasing exponentially”. The three most common types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
There are various signs and symptoms associated with skin cancer.
“You should see your health care provider if you see changes in the size, shape, or color of moles or freckles, if you have a new spot that comes up, a wound that won’t heal, or a spot that doesn’t look like others on your skin,” Chani explained.
Although research through the years has provided many new options in treating skin cancer, including surgery and drug combinations, prevention is key.
“Avoid sunburns,” Dr. Chani said. “Sun exposure is the biggest risk factor for skin cancer development. Don’t be in direct sunlight during the peak hours (of) noon to 4 p.m. Don’t use tanning beds. If you feel you need to add some color, consider using self-tanning products. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before being in the sun and reapply every two hours. You need to have at least 30 SPF (skin protection factor). Wear clothing that protects your skin – wide-brim hats, long sleeves. Use lip balm with SPF. Lips can get skin cancer as well.”
Dr. Chani stated that sunscreens offer substantial protection against skin cancer. However, it is best to research the ingredients found in sunscreen.
“Mineral-based sunscreens, ones that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are excellent options,” Dr. Chani said. “Benzene should be avoided. It can be absorbed through the skin and may contribute to the development of some cancers.”
Overall, Dr. Chani said early detection of skin cancer is important. If you are concerned with an area on your skin, see your health care provider.