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We all know that the sun produces invisible rays that damage our skin and can cause cancer. However, it is unrealistic to avoid the outdoors between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and to wear long sleeves and pants throughout the humid summer. Let’s face it, we live or travel to the Jersey shore for one thing: fun in the sun!  It is reasonable to abide by one rule: do not get sunburned. The more sunburns we get, the higher risk of skin cancer.

If you enjoy the outdoors, or have had sun exposure during childhood, then you owe it to your health to obtain a skin cancer screening yearly, starting at age 14. Early detection of skin cancer saves lives. Most of us are faithful with other cancer screenings such as an annual pap exam, mammogram, blood work for prostate cancer for example, and even the dreaded colonoscopy when ordered. But somehow we forget about the largest organ in our body: our skin. A skin exam is simply a visual exam performed by a practitioner in dermatology.

True or False?

1. It is a good idea to get a base tan before vacation?

    False. More sun exposure = more skin cancer. Tanning booths increase your risk.

2. I should apply a shot glass size of sunscreen with each application and reapply every 80 minutes?

     True. If you are using the appropriate amount which is 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) you we need to purchase several bottles each season. However, reapplying every hour is easier to remember and should be performed when sweating and swimming.

3. Using sunscreen rated 100 SPF is better than 30 SPF.

      False. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30 that is water resistant. Additionally, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and preferably a sunscreen with zinc and/or titanium listed as active ingredients.

In addition to an annual skin cancer screening, when else should you seek an exam by an experienced clinician at a dermatology practice?

 - A new or changing mole (itchy, bleeding).

- If something new develops on your skin and it does not heal within 4 weeks.

- To identify or treat anything on your skin, scalp, hair or nails.

Jennifer Sibiga, RN, MS, APN-C has been a Nurse Practitioner since 1998. She has been practicing medicine at Connolly Dermatology for over 10 years.  Jennifer is now accepting new patients in Cape  May Courthouse.  Call (609) 926-8899 to schedule your skin cancer screening today!

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