The ABC's of sun protection - - The News for South Mississippi

The ABC's of sun protection


By Karen Abernathy – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Skin cancer is on the rise, especially among young people. That's important to keep in mind as South Mississippians are spending more time outdoors this time of year. It is a good time to remind people about the dangers of the sun's damaging rays on our skin, which is really an issue year round on the Gulf Coast.

Gulfport dermatologist Jacqueline Sasaki, M.D. takes every skin check up very seriously, no matter what age her patient is.

"Much of the damage is by age 18," Sasaki said. "One or two blistering sunburns before that, increases your risk of melanoma dramatically."

Melanoma is the most dangerous and potentially deadly form of skin cancer. And it is preventable in most cases, if people use what Dr. Sasaki calls the ABC's of skin protection, starting with A for avoid. 

"Avoiding the most dangerous hours of the day, 10 to 4, when ultraviolet rays are most damaging."

B is for block, meaning that "You want to wear hats, sunglasses, and wear protective clothing whenever possible. And for areas you can't cover, wear the highest SPF, or sun protection factor, you can tolerate." 

Sasaki recommends an SPF of 70 when you're spending the day outdoors, and a minimum of SPF 30 for daily wear. 

C is for cover.  How much sunscreen does it take to cover an adult? 

"Apply a full shot glass on the entire body for an adult and a little less for a child."

Dr. Sasaki said if you have any spots, sores, or moles on your skin that are new, or have changed, you should have them evaluated by your physician.  It could save your life.  "Melanoma when caught early has a survival rate of over 90 percent".

And remember to start protecting your skin or your child's, early in life. 

"I think people take it seriously when they're older and wiser. Unfortunately young people need to take it most seriously because we know the cumulative effect of damage by age 25 is most dangerous for the most deadly type of skin cancer, melanoma."

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