It's the hot, lazy days of summer. Time to get outdoors and enjoy time by the pool or at the beach, but just 15 minutes in the sun can lead to serious skin damage.
Channel 3 stopped by the Chattanooga Skin and Cancer Center to talk with Dr. Maren Shaw.
Dr. Shaw says, "Chattanooga is a very sunny area, so it's very important to protect your skin from the sun."
Especially during the peak hours between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., which Dr. Shaw says is the timeframe when you need to look for shade or an umbrella. If that's not available, protective clothing is the next best thing.
Dr. Shaw says, "So, we're talking about a hat, sunglasses, if you can find long sleeve shirts or pants if you are doing yard work or something like that outside."
Then, of course, don't forget the sunscreen, because if you get a sunburn, Dr. Shaw says, "that's your skin's way of saying you've got too much sun."
And Dr. Shaw says having a blistering sunburn as a child or adolescent doubles your risk of melanoma, not to mention other long term effects from too much sun.
Dr. Shaw says, "Which causes wrinkles, dark spots and it makes you look older than you really are."
As for the myth that African-Americans and those with darker skin don't need to worry about skin cancer, Dr. Maren says that's not exactly true.
Dr. Shaw says, "The melanin in African-American skin does protect us from the sun; the risk of us developing skin cancer is much lower than patients with fair skin."
Dr. Shaw says, "But African-Americans do still develop skin cancer in darker skin patients."
Dr. Shaw says it's important for patients of all pigmentations to check their skin on a regular basis and see a dermatologist if they notice anything that's not healing, growing, or that doesn't seem normal.