Living Well: As summer starts, protect your skin from harmful sun damage |

Living Well: As summer starts, protect your skin from harmful sun damage

Lauren Glendenning/Brought to you by Memorial Regional Health
In places like Colorado where there are so many fun things to do in the outdoors, sun protection is a serious issue. Wear UVA and UVB broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher if you’re planning on being outside.

Sunscreen tips from MRH

The three key terms to look for on the bottle/tube when choosing sunscreen for summer activities are:

  1. SPF 50 or higher.
  2. UVA and UVB broad spectrum.
  3. Water resistant.

Source: Dr. Laurie Good, Dermatology, Memorial Regional Health.

Schedule your skin check today

To schedule a skin check with the MRH Dermatology team, call 970-826-8080. Appointments are available in both Craig and Steamboat.

Skin cancer facts

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
  • Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • It is estimated that approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
  • Melanoma rates in the United States doubled from 1982 to 2011 and have continued to increase.
  • Caucasians and men older than 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in females age 15-29.       
  • Research indicates that the incidence of melanoma in women 18-39 increased 800 percent from 1970 to 2009.
  • Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

Colorado has more sunny days than most states regardless of the season, but Memorial Day weekend marks the start of sunny summertime.

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day” as an effort to spread education about sun safety. In places like Colorado where there are so many fun things to do in the outdoors, sun protection is a serious issue. The Council recommends following as many of the following tips as possible:

  • Do not burn or tan.
  • Seek shade.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing.
  • Generously apply sunscreen.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand.
  • Get vitamin D safely.

Dr. Laurie Good, Dermatologist at Memorial Regional Health, has already seen a lot of spring break sunburns this year from local residents who went down to Mexico. She said anyone spending time doing water-based activities this summer — such as fishing, kayaking, rafting, boating, swimming, stand up paddleboarding or other water recreation — should pay close attention to protecting their lips from the sun.

“The reflection off water is often underestimated and lips are a frequent site of UV (ultraviolet) damage and the eventual development of skin cancers,” Good said.

Skin cancer

Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation, according to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. People with lighter-toned skin are most susceptible to overexposure, but it can happen to anyone.

“Those who have a family history of skin cancer, plenty of moles or freckles, or a history of severe sunburns early in life are at a higher risk of skin cancer as well,” according to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. “To minimize the harmful effects of excessive and unprotected sun exposure, protection from intense UV radiation should be a lifelong practice for everyone.”

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Not only can the sun cause skin cancer, it’s also responsible for an estimated 90 percent of skin aging.

Just one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. To protect your risk, avoid indoor tanning beds and stay out of the sun whenever possible. When in the sun, it’s essential to protect yourself from overexposure.


The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that those who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who don’t wear sunscreen daily.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a broad-spectrum, water-resistance sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Children should be especially protected from the sun because of the increased risk of melanoma later in life in those who experienced severe sunburns as a child.

“If people are wondering what types of sunscreen to use, I encourage use of the physical blocking agents, which are safest for our bodies and the environment,” Good said. “Those types of sunscreen physically block UV rays from the skin.”

She said the two ingredients to look for are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Other ingredients are called chemical blockers and several of those have recently been implicated in the bleaching of coral reefs, Good said.

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