The sunshine makes us happy! Without it, we would die! But if you spend too much time in the sun, your risk for skin cancer rises and your skin ages faster.
Meteorologist Lindsey Day caught up with skin experts who have an important message for anyone spending time in the sun. Plus, check out this local woman who shows us how she’s reversing her sun damage!
The sun gives us life. It allows photosynthesis in plants and provides powerful, immune boosting vitamin D.
Dr. Susan Chon, a Dermatologist at MD Anderson explains, “There’s a seasonal affective disorder associated with a lack of sunlight, where people get depressed.”
However, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing: “We see up to 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer per year. That’s the most common type – the Basal and squamous cell type cancers,” explains Dr. Chon.
The good news is that these skin cancers are typically curable. Only about 1% of skin cancer is the more deadly, melanoma skin cancer.
“The other good news is that almost half cases of melanoma detected are in the early stages, and people do quite well when they’re detected early and have a really good survival rate. That’s why we emphasize surveillance by yourself,” explains Dr. Chon.
It’s recommended to take about 5 to 10 minutes every couple of months to examine the moles on the skin. If you see any changes in color size or shape head into the dermatologist.
“Another thing that patients come in for is the changes that occur with all the sun damage to the skin, and how unhappy that makes them feel. Patients who have spent the effort to protect their skin over their lifetime look completely different,” adds Dr. Chon.
You could say Lynn Font “saw the light” when she started seeing a dermatologist ten years ago. At least she saw what the SUNLIGHT did to her skin!
“I’ve lived here on the Gulf coast my entire life. I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, going to the beach, being outside, gardening and all those things that just put you in the sun. It just builds up over time,” explains Lynn.
Escarle Silva, Esthetician and owner of Alira Med Spa warns us of a big mistake many people make. “Some people only use sunscreen when they go to the beach and to the pool, which is a big mistake because they get sun damage on a daily basis. They see it late 30s or 40s and they think, oh I’m getting old, this is what happens to my skin now. No this is something that we have exposed our skin over the years and it shows in our late 30s.”
“Some of the places that had the sun exposure over time were getting super freckled and a leathery look that I didn’t like, and I was getting more wrinkles!” says Lynn. She went to Escarle at Alira Spa to reverse the damage.
“I will address in different ways either with chemical peels or IPL treatment which are the most effective to bring pigment out of the skin and get the sun damage out. With Lynn we have been doing some IPL treatments and resurface lasers and it has worked tremendously,” explains Escarle.
“After two weeks the changes were just incredible! My skin tone became much more even, my skin was smoother. I felt it was a big, big change for the better,” adds Lynn.
Dr. Chon explains a common misconception. “One of the points I’d like to make, is when people say ‘Oh, all the damage is done, it doesn’t matter anymore’ – and that’s definitely not true! The gradual accumulation of sun damage over the lifespan is very even. You get about 25% of the sun damage over your first 20 years, and about 25% of your sun damage every 20 years.”
There’s even better news! There’s evidence to support that if you start protecting yourself today, you can fix the damage already done from the past! “If you can decrease the UV mutagen to the skin you can actually reverse sun damage. I see that with my patients!
The experts remind us two important things. Sunscreen is not a perfect invisible shield. You’re still going to get UV through the sunscreen. Plus, you really do have to reapply. People will say, I put it on in the morning and I still have a sunburn. Yes, because it doesn’t last,” explains Dr. Chon.
Look for part two of this “Sun and Skin” story containing an important message for anyone wearing sunscreen. Stay tuned for information on common sunscreens you may be buying that have harmful ingredients.