How to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays

The sun is here and many people love the way it feels on their skin, but that also comes with putting your body's largest organ at risk.

Dr. Diana Bitner, nationally recognized menopause and women's health specialist from Spectrum Health, shares some tips on what people can do to protect their skin from the sun.

Dr. Bitner says the skin is an important organ people often ignore until there is a problem, and then there is no ignoring the acne, wrinkles,  hair growth, hair loss, or worse problems such as skin cancer.

Most of the time, what the skin reflects on the outside can speak volumes about a person's health. Good looking firm healthy skin is most likely to happen when hydrated, avoiding excess sugar, avoiding cigarette smoke. and protecting it from too much sun exposure. Like all aspects of our health, our skin requires daily choices to look and feel good.

The basics of skin care involve hydration from the inside, moisturize from the outside, and protection from damaging sun or smoke.

To promote healthy aging, it's very important to know how to prevent and identify skin cancer. When skin cells are damaged by excessive sun rays, breaks in the cell genetic material occurs and if not caught and corrected, the skin cell can start to grow out of control and develop into melanoma or basal cell cancer, depending on which cell is damaged.

Some sun exposure is healthy to stimulate Vitamin D production in the skin, but too much sun, especially between 10 am and 2 pm can put people at risk for more than burns or wrinkles. It is important to put on sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher and repeat after two hours of exposure or after sweating or swimming.

The best treatment is prevention, and the second best is early detection. Melanoma can occur in existing moles, and also in normal skin. Dr. Bitner suggests remembering the ABCDEs in checking for abnormalities that might be an early sign of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry- uneven shape
  • Border- not sharp, edges fading into skin
  • Color- uneven color-light or dark brown, black, or red
  • Diameter-bigger than the size of a pencil eraser
  • Evolution- changing spot, even in a previously stable mole

It is possible to catch skin cancer early, and if there is worry, see a medical health professional.

Dr. Bitner's office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Drive Northwest, Suite A. To schedule an appointment with her, call (616)-267-8225.

Read more stories like this on Dr. Bitner's Blog.

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