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An ounce of prevention can save summer fun

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. More than 1 million cases are reported annually, and 250,000 of those are diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths. Chronic exposure to sunlight is the chief cause of almost all melanomas, frequently occurring on exposed parts of the face, ears, neck, scalp and upper back.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing more cases than ever before. I have personally diagnosed more than 100 cases of melanoma malignancies.

Your first line of defense is a good sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Spread a tablespoon over your face and another two ounces on your body 20 to 30 minutes before exposure. Reapply after swimming. If used properly, two adults could go through a bottle a day.

And I suggest wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.

African-Americans can sunburn, too. It’s important for all races to take sunburn precautions and regularly check their skin for evidence of change in existing moles, freckles, bumps or birthmarks.

If you notice a change, get to your doctor immediately. In fact, if you’re exposed to the Texas sun, it would be a good idea to have your skin examined by a knowledgeable dermatologist at least once a year.

Follow these skin-safety guidelines:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays; reapply often. ​
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
  • Drink plenty of water to help replenish moisture.
  • Avoid indoor tanning beds.
  • Examine your body monthly for irregular lesions that are changing or growing.

Remember, prevention is your best protection.