Skin Cancer Prevention in Los Angeles, CA
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Nothing is truer than when it comes to skin cancer prevention. Kian Karimi, MD, FACS, and Chester Griffiths, MD, FACS, double board-certified plastic surgeons at Rejuva Medical Aesthetics, can’t stress enough how much easier it is to avoid getting skin cancer than dealing with it when it happens. They always provide tips to men and women living in and around Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood, CA, about protecting themselves and their children from the sun’s harmful rays.
How Does the Sun Damage the Skin?
For the most part, skin damage comes from excessive exposure to sun. It is common to think that a mild sunburn doesn’t cause any damage but when that mild sunburn happens repeatedly, the skin is permanently damaged, and over time, it goes from short-term damage to long-term damage.
The sun puts out two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays that damage human skin — rays are UVA and UVB rays. When comparing the two, the UVA rays are the ones that penetrate the deep layers of skin, which is where skin maintains its elasticity and causes many of the signs of aging. The UVB rays penetrate the surface layers of the skin to give it a tan color or burn it.
It is important to note that overexposure to both types of UV rays increase the chances of getting skin cancer. When overexposed to the sun, skin cells damaged through sunburn and excessive tanning increase the chances of the damaged skin cells mutating and turning into cancer.
Did you know that when your skin tans, the darker color is the increased amount of melanin your body produces to protect your skin from the sun? For those who tan and rarely burn, this does not mean that you are safe from skin cancer. While your skin may not feel the effects of a sunburn, tanned skin is still at risk from the damage caused by the UV rays.
On top of the risk of developing skin cancer, there is an even bigger risk of premature aging. This means developing wrinkles, fine lines and lost volume at an earlier age. Other issues may include non-cancerous growths on the skin. Even though they are non-cancerous, they are considered pre-cancerous, so it is necessary to surgically remove them as a preventive measure.
Who is More Prone for Skin Cancer?
Anyone is susceptible to skin cancer; however, children and people with very fair skin run the greatest risk of skin damage. As most adults who develop skin cancer will tell you, the damage is done early in life when their skin was not protected. Additionally, anyone who works outside all day runs a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
There are other factors that put people at risk for skin cancer including:
- High propensity for developing moles
- Previous history of skin cancer of any type
- Family history of skin cancer
- Skin with no melanin at all (Albino)
- Skin disease such as vitiligo (patches of skin with no melanin)
- Exposed scars
- Weakened immune systems from illness or medication that affects the immune system
- Living in areas with sunny climates
How Can I Protect My Skin from The Sun?
The best prevention for developing skin cancer is to avoid it all together during the prime hours of the day when the sun is the most damaging. This means staying in the shade or indoors whenever possible between 10am and 4pm. If this is not possible, it is important to use shade items such as umbrellas or canopies or sit under a tree.
When outdoors during the heat of the day, wear clothing that protects skin from the harmful rays or that provides shading. People working outside must be especially careful about the sun. To protect the skin, wear long-sleeve shirts with SPF in the fabric and lightweight pants that are comfortable but block the sun. Always wear a wide brim hat to protect the face from sunburn and even a scarf or something around the neck to protect that area.
There should never be a time when outside in the sun that people do not wear sunscreen. This is probably the easiest step to take. We always recommend at least SPF 15 when in and out of the sun during the day but higher, SPF 30 or 50, for anyone outside for extended periods and for children. With sunscreen, it is also important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also blocks UVA and UVB rays.
Isn’t the Sun Necessary for Vitamin D?
Yes, it is important to get some Vitamin D naturally from the sun. While we do not advocate staying inside all the time, we do insist that precautions be made. To prevent a deficiency, a person only needs 20-30 minutes of natural sun exposure three times a week during the summer months. This is better for your body than trying to get it all in one outing. Since there are supplements available, it is fairly easy to ensure people have enough Vitamin D.
What If I Love Being Outside?
As with everything in life, it is all about moderation. If you love being outdoors, just be smart and safe. Use sunscreen, dress appropriately and avoid the heat of the day if you can. Go outdoors for short periods of time instead of an entire day. And if you love how you look with a tan, there are other ways to get one without sitting outside. Try sunless tanning creams or spray tans to get that bronzed glow!
Rejuva Medical Aesthetics is passionately committed to reflecting your inner beauty. Using the latest and most advanced procedures for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, our team offers full body plastic surgery, emphasizing overall health and wellness to the residents in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and the surrounding communities in California. Contact us us now!