With sunny times ahead in the Keys, protecting your skin is important

With spring coming around and summer close on its heels, people will be out and about much more in the Keys – and that means sun exposure.

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

Hugh Jackman – of the Greatest Showman and Wolverine fame – has been in the news recently talking about his own bought with skin cancer because he didn’t take precautions when he was younger.

Sommer chuckled, “Nobody wants to listen to a nagging nurse, a doctor, a mother, a father, anybody, but we’ll listen to a star.”

Jackman posted on his social media that he had biopsies on his nose and reminded people to wear sunblock and sunscreen.

Michael Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM recalled, “Back in my day when I was a lifeguard for a number of years, people used to actually use suntan oil.”

Sommer said, “Or olive oil, literally baking in the sun.”

We know now you should NOT do that.

In 2021, the American Academy for Dermatology carried out a survey where it was found a third of the people have gotten sunburned, despite knowing better. Sixty-seven percent admitted to not knowing with SPF means.

It is Sun Protecting Factor.

Sommer said, “They want you to have at least SPF of 30 or greater and basically 50 is the one they recommend the most. It means you’re 98 percent protected from UVB rays.”

It’s also important to reapply sunscreen.

Sommer said, “You should reapply every two hours and if you’re in the water, maybe a little more often. Even though they are water resistant they will wash off and lose their efficacy. You have to try to make it routine.”

It’s understandable for those who are working in the sun or on vacation that they will apply sunscreen in the morning and then get busy and forget to put more on. It does lose effectiveness over time.

The sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sommer said, “I find that down here because there’s really no cover, so you just need to be mindful if you’re going to be standing out in the sun for a long period of time, make sure you have a hat, sunglasses and apply that sunscreen.”

Sunglasses protect eyes from the UV rays.

If you are out in the sun, remember to monitor your skin.

Sommer said, “If have moles that you’ve always had and you see that they’re changing, they may need to be looked at.”

Changes can include alterations in size, shape or color.

It’s the A, B, C, D, E’s.

A is asymmetry or it changes shape.

B is if the borders of the mole are irregular.

C is color and it’s a big deal.

Sommer said, “They usually tend to start out they could be a reddish brown. If they dark or black, you’ve got to get it looked at.

D is for diameter. If a mole grows in diameter, get it looked out.

E is the whole evolution of the appearance of the spot.

Sommer added, “If new spots pop up or if they become itchy, bleeding, definitely seek to get that looked at right away.”

Age spots can also change, so keep an eye out on those.

A family history of skin cancer can play a part, too.

Sommer reminded, “Skin cancer can be everywhere, not just where the sun hits. It could be in those places that you would least expect it.”

It also doesn’t have to be a sunny day to get a sunburn – even when it’s overcast, you need to apply sunblock. Sommer said, “I do tell patients surgical scars are very vulnerable. Make sure that’s protected because your skin there is not as strong as it was before it was cut open, so they are more sensitive. You need to watch them and make sure they’re covered, apply sunblock.”

If you have any concerns about issues with your skin, click here: https://www.keywestsurgicalgroup.com/