Fun in the sun

Dermatologists recommend that people wear hats, lightweight shirts and sunscreen for prolonged outdoor activity, including boating on Lake Belton.

Sunburns hurt in more ways than one.

The danger goes far beyond any short-term pain, redness and discomfort, because after the sunburn fades, lasting damage remains, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

With Memorial Day serving as the unofficial start of summer, it’s worth reminding people to take care as they head out to the parks or lakes to celebrate the holiday, said Dr. Katherine Fiala, Baylor Scott & White – Temple dermatologist.

Families have sheltered inside their homes as a result of COVID-19 for what seems like forever and now that some of the restrictions are lifted people are heading to the great outdoors because it’s one of the safest places to be.

“I think going outside is great, it’s a good place if you are going to get together with friends,” Fiala said. “It’s easy to maintain social distance and it’s harder for virus transmission to happen.”

If that’s part of your plans, Fiala said not to forget to wear a hat with at least of 3-inch brim all the way around and pick out a sunscreen with a spf 50 that is water resistant and has broad spectrum protection.

“Remember to reapply every 80 minutes,” she said.

Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is recommended. Sitting in the shade offers protection as well.

Fiala said this is a good time to check out any moles you might have. It’s easier when you’re wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts and swimsuits.

If there are changes in the mole the individual needs to see a dermatologist, she said.

For melanoma an A, B, C, D, E mnemonic is used to identify cancerous spots. A is for asymmetry, B is for borders, C is for color, D is for diameter, E is for evolving.

Noncancerous moles are usually pink and appear as a spot that bleeds.

Swim shirts used for children are great, Fiala said. You don’t have to use so much sunscreen and the shirts are more effective.

Adult clothing that protects against the sun is available. The shirts are well ventilated so they are not unbearable in the Texas summer.

A day on the lake can cause severe burns. There are places like the back of the neck, behind the ears, the tops of the ears and under the chin are easily missed with sunscreen, but are particularly vulnerable to sun reflecting off the water, she said. The tops of the feet are susceptible to burns.

“It can take years for the sun damage acquired during childhood to show up as skin cancer,” Fiala said. “The real damage happens before the individual turns 18. One or two blistering sunburns before age 18 can significantly increase the chances of skin cancer later in life.”

Freckles are a reaction the skin has to the sun.

Across the country, more people are present with skin cancer because of exposure and they are living longer, she said.

In the United States, one in five people will develop a skin cancer in their lifetime, Fiala said. There’s no skin cancer screening recommendation, but white men over the age of 50 are at the highest risk for melanoma.

“If you have had a skin cancer we do recommend a yearly check,” she said.

Right now a lot of people are suffering from cabin fever, Fiala said. The weather is beautiful and restrictions are being lifted and people are heading outdoors.

“Don’t forget about protecting your skin,” she said.