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Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The sun isn't kind to your skin

Whether you do it for your health or vanity, protect your skin from the sun

  • Kim Carney / The Herald

Want to look good for summer?
Forget about that bronze glow.
"There's no such thing as a healthy tan," said Dr. Dieter Schmidt of North Sound Dermatology.
The bottom line is that it means your skin has been damaged. If you must have a tan, spray or smear one on. Sunless tanning lotions come in many hues and are a cheap fix. It's night and day compared to those self-tanning agents of the past that turned people orange and streaked when it rained.
Those sweet kisses from the sun will catch up with you.
About 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Skin cancer is more common than all other types of cancer combined.
Baby Boomers dipped themselves in baby oil to fry in the sun. Their children now do something equally bad: They use tanning beds.
Melanoma is the most common cancer in people in their 20s. Many people with melanoma spent time in tanning beds.
Sun exposure isn't a summer-only concern. It happens year-round, even in Seattle. The dangerous rays pass though rain, clouds and car windows. In the dreary months, Schmidt recommends a daily moisturizer or foundation with an SPF of at least 15.
If you don't do it for your health, do it for your looks. New research backs the cosmetic value of sunscreen. It might be the cheapest and most effective anti-aging beauty cream on the planet.
"It slows down the skin aging process," Schmidt said.
Be sun-savvy
  • Stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Keep your skin covered and wear a hat when it's sunny.
  • Use a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher. Make sure the sunscreen label has either "broad-spectrum" or "UVA and UVB" written on it.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, after toweling off or with excessive sweating.
Risk factors
No one is exempt from the risk of skin cancer, but a person who has any of the following should be extra cautious:
  • A fair complexion, red or blonde hair, freckles or a tendency to burn easily.
  • A family history of skin cancer.
  • A history of blistering sunburns.
Look for trouble
  • A monthly self-exam should include every area of the skin, including the nails, palms, soles, between toes and fingers, eyes, mouth and genitals.
  • A hand-held mirror can help to check areas that are hard to see.
  • Stand with your back to a full-length mirror and, using a hand mirror, look at your back, buttocks and back of your neck, arms and legs.
Danger signs
  • Any changing mole -- no matter what the change is -- but especially if it is getting bigger, darker, more irregular in outline and has new colors or multiple shades of the same color, like light brown and dark brown in the same mole.
  • A mole that is painful, itching, bleeding, scabbing or crusting over.
  • A sore that won't heal for three weeks or longer.
  • A reddish, scaling patch that won't go away, and which may be painful or itchy.
  • A smooth red bump that is indented in the middle.
  • A shiny, waxy, scar-like spot. It may be yellow or white with irregular borders.
Source: Dr. Dieter Schmidt, North Sound Dermatology
Story tags » DiseasesPreventative medicineWellness

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