Health Beat: Enjoy summer fun by protecting your skin

Health Beat: Enjoy summer fun by protecting your skin

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Enjoy Summer Fun by Protecting Your Skin

Layla Barrera, DO

Whether it’s trips to Long Island’s beautiful beaches or gatherings with family and friends at a backyard pool, area residents will be spending more time outside soaking up the sun’s rays.

While the sun feels great on your skin, it can cause irreversible damage. The good news is with a few simple steps you can safely enjoy the sun. Catholic Health’s Ambulatory Care at Bay Shore Primary Care Physician Layla Barrera, DO, shared several tips to help you avoid skin damage.

Q: How do I protect myself and still be in the sun?

A: To avoid painful burns, you should wear clothing such as long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Choose items that are thinner and lighter in weight. A hat with a wide brim will protect your face. Don’t forget your eyes. Use sunglasses. It’s also important to use sunscreen on any skin that remains exposed. 

Q: Which sunscreen is the most effective?

A: Sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of greater than 30 is most effective. It’s also best to use cream sunscreens and avoid the aerosols because they may not cover an entire area evenly. 

Q: What extra precautions are needed when spending time at the beach or pool?

A: Wear water-resistant sunscreen. If that’s not an option, reapply sunscreen every two hours to make sure swimming or perspiration hasn’t diminished its effectiveness.

Q: For those who spend extensive time outdoors, how often should they check their skin for moles or damage?

A: While there are no specific guidelines, for those with a family history of skin cancer, an annual screening is recommended. Basal cell skin cancers are the most common type of skin cancer. It starts in the top layer of the skin and is often related to sun exposure. If not removed completely, basal cell carcinoma can recur in the same place on the skin. People who have had basal cell skin cancers are also more likely to get new ones in other places.

Q: What signs should we look for in moles?

A: We use the ‘ABCDE’ method when it comes to examining moles. 

  • A – Asymmetry: One half does not match the other.
  • B – Border irregularity: Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.
  • C – Color: A variety of colors such as black, brown and tan.
  • D – Diameter: Grows larger than the size of a pencil eraser (about ¼ of an inch).
  • E – Evolving: This has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to diagnosing melanoma. If a mole is changing, it’s concerning.

Q: How does a primary care physician help patients identify unusual moles or other skin defects?

A: A primary care physician will look for any abnormalities as part of a physical examination. If they identify something abnormal, they will refer the patient to a dermatologist for further examination. They will also discuss preventive measures to protect the skin.

About Catholic Health

Catholic Health is an integrated system encompassing some of the region’s finest health and human services agencies. The health system has nearly 17,400 employees, 6 acute care hospitals, 3 nursing homes, a home nursing service, hospice and a network of physician practices.