Since we’re in the midst of another hot Jersey summer, odds are you’re spending as much time as possible either huddled next to the air conditioner or at the Shore. This time in the sun adds up with skin cells that can begin mutating into skin cancer.
So, this could be a good time for a little refresher on skin cancer. Dr. Hetzler has extensive experience in melanoma removal. Hopefully, you’ll never need that service, but just so you stay in the know, here are a few questions on skin cancer and sunscreen from our office.
UVA vs. UVB or both?
Sunscreen labels can seem confusing, but it’s not really that complicated. You need a sunscreen labeled “broad based” or for “both UVA and UVB rays.” Initially, the thinking was that only UVB rays were dangerous, as those are the rays that affect the epidermis. UVB rays cause sunburns. But now we know that UVA rays are doing their damage from below. They penetrate into the dermis, the skin’s second layer, causing skin aging and the beginnings of melanoma and other skin cancers. So, while UVA rays don’t make you peel, they could be doing even worse things in the dermis.
How much SPF is needed?
SPF is an area of confusion. People think that the more SPF the better, and they pay through the nose for it. But the reality is that over an SPF of 30, the difference is only a couple percent in sun blocking ability. Those SPFs that claim 50 and higher are probably just setting you up to pay more.
If you get skin cancer you die.
Although it is the most common cancer worldwide, skin cancer isn’t the biggest killer. Most skin cancers, if detected early enough, are all treatable with surgery. That’s why yearly visits to a dermatologist are important, to catch skin cancer early. And if it turns out to be melanoma, then call Dr. Hetzler and have him remove it.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer
This is true. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. More than 8,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it every day! Probably double that or more are undiagnosed.
Sunscreen prevents skin cancer
Nope. Sunscreen helps block the rays than lead to skin cancer, but just because you have on sunscreen doesn’t mean you can spend every waking minute in the sun without repercussions. Sun damage is cumulative.
If you have lots of moles, you have a higher risk of melanoma
Although moles don’t usually turn into skin cancer, there is a correlation between moles and developing melanoma. People with moles, especially large ones, have a higher risk of melanoma. The rough number is 50 — if you have more than 50 moles on your skin, your risk of skin cancer is higher.
You can come out from under that air conditioner now. A day at the beach is waaaaay more fun. Just keep and eye on your skin and protect yourself. But if you do develop melanoma, call Dr. Hetzler to remove it. Questions about skin cancer? Call us at (732) 219-0447.