Dermatologists offer sun-protection tips as Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, May 25, 2024
Memorial Day weekend a good time to brush up on sun-protection tips
The Friday before Memorial Day is known as "Don't Fry Day." It's a good time to brush up on how to protect yourself from the sun this summer.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Friday before Memorial Day is known as "Don't Fry Day."

It's a time to prepare all the ways you're going to protect your skin before you head out to a pool or cookout. Dermatologists are sharing what's the best sunscreen to use and other strategies to stay safe.

If you're thinking of starting your summer with a splash, remember to protect your skin.

"There's actually no safe tan," said dermatologist Dr. Han Lee with Comprehensive Dermatology Center in Pasadena.

She said that caramel glow which people covet is actually your skin reacting to damage. Malignant melanoma causes about 5% of skin cancers, but accounts for more than 90% of deaths.

"It's one of the cancers that affect that young population, and it can be deadly," she said.

A classic sign are moles that change in shape and color.

It's not just a concern for fair-skinned people. Dr. Lee sees many Asians, Latinos and African Americans present with a subtype of melanoma called acral lentiginous melanoma which can be more aggressive.

"If your nails suddenly develop a darker streak, or broadening streak of brown, that can be a sign of skin cancer," Lee said.

Basal cell skin cancer is the most common, followed by squamous cell.

"Anything that's growing, changing or not healing should be checked," she said.

With every prolonged sun exposure, your risk goes up. The best strategy for every skin type is to use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. Creams and lotions are Dr. Lee's first picks.

"It should be applied about 30 minutes before heading outdoors because it allows for penetration and better protection," said Lee.

Reapply every 2 hours. With concerns over some ingredients in chemical sun blocks, Dr. Lee usually recommends physical sunscreens containing zinc or titanium oxide. Look for products that offer broad spectrum protection. Don't forget your scalp, especially if you have less hair.

"They definitely need to protect their head and behind the ears is one area that's often forgotten. A lot of people are wearing flip flops and they should be protecting the top surface of the feet," Lee said.

She also recommends SPF hats and clothing and to limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"Don't be scared of the sun. Get your Vitamin D," she said.

But always in moderation.

"It's kind of like wine: A little bit is good. Too much is bad," said Lee.