The season of deep tans, warm weather and hot sun lends itself to more outdoor activities, and inevitably, more skin bared.
And while bottles of sunscreen are a staple in most beach bags, how well are we really protecting ourselves against the sun’s harmful UV rays?
“It’s well documented that UVA and UVB cause changes in your skin that contribute to the development of skin cancer,” said Dr. Adrienne Haughton, a board certified dermatologist with Stony Brook Medicine. She added that with more UV exposure comes a greater risk for skin cancer.
Robert Grippo, 71, of Holbrook, has experienced the pain of skin cancer twice, explaining that he was diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer “once in 2012 and then it came back in a different spot in 2013.”
For Grippo, both cases were located around the nose area and required biopsies.
“The skin around your nose is very sensitive and when that needle goes in, you feel it,” he said. “I don’t wish that on anyone.”
And while people have started to be more proactive about protecting their skin from UV rays -- Haughton noted an increase in the use of rash guards, umbrellas and tents at the beach -- she said that an increased awareness is still key.
For example, Haughton said clothing is not an effective form of protection as some might think. “A white T-shirt has an SPF of 4. So, if someone says, ‘Oh, I can go to the beach and wear a white shirt,’ that’s not enough.”
To help protect against UV damage, Haughton offered three tips:
- Seek shade
- Avoid the peak hours of the sun, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- Wear sunscreen every-single-day (and reapply every two hours)
Wearing sunscreen every day is important, she said, because UVA is able to travel through window glass and despite what many may think, 80-percent of UVA penetrates the clouds on a cloudy day.
However, summertime is not the only times when our skin is at risk.
“If you’re skiing, the snow is a reflective surface just like the sand and just like the water, so when you’re all around any reflective surface, you’re increasing your risk of developing increased UV exposure,” Haughton said.
For Grippo, his experiences have taught him one thing: protect your skin.
“Always make sure you have a hat, use your sunblock, because to be honest with you, you really don’t want to go through those biopsies.”