A place in the sun
in the sunFind yours, and protect your skin at the same time!
The spring and summer months are a beautiful time in our region. From sailing on Hood Canal and hiking in the Olympics, to swimming in area waters and barbecuing in your own backyard, there are a million-and-one reasons to get out and enjoy the warm weather.

But with the sun comes hidden danger. That “healthy” tan you seek each year is really the beginning of sun damage. “Some people believe that if they are able to tan, then their skin is safe from burns and other damage,” says Irene Buño, MD, a board-certified dermatologist practicing at Harrison HealthPartners Silverdale Family Medicine & Dermatology. “In fact, a suntan is the skin’s response to the sun’s harmful rays.”

Other signs of sun damage include:
  • sunburn
  • freckles
  • wrinkles and sagging skin
  • skin discoloration (white, red, or brown blotches)
  • texture change (leathery, rough, or dry skin)
  • loss in elasticity

But early aging isn’t the only thing to worry about. “The most predominant risk factor for skin cancer is sun exposure,” says Dr. Buño. Approximately 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, a number that is steadily increasing. The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, but the most serious form, melanoma, is also on the rise. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, by 2015, 1 in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime.

Safety first
You can still enjoy your favorite outdoor activities. “Sun protection remains the best defense for all sorts of skin cancer,” says Dr. Buño. “And not just when the sun is out. The UV rays from the sun still shine through the clouds—spring, summer, winter, and fall.”

Consider these ways to protect yourself:

  • seek shade, especially between 10 am and 4 pm
  • wear hats, sunglasses, and sun protective clothing
  • apply sunblock or sunscreen and lip balm

When applying sunblock and sunscreen, use water-resistant when possible, make sure to apply enough, and reapply it throughout the day. SPF 30 is recommended, and look for broad-spectrum protection, as it protects against both UVA and UVB damage.