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Published on June 09, 2020

Sun Protection All Year Long

applying sunscreen in winter

While it is great to be active and have fun outdoors, Dr. James Lee reminds us of the importance of skin protection.

Why is it important to protect our skin?

Dr. James Lee:  While it is recommended to have a little daily sun exposure to help make vitamin D, it is equally important to protect your skin from the harmful UV radiation of the sun. Both UVA and UVB rays lead to immediate damage such as sunburn and long term damage including photo-aging and skin cancer.

Does everyone need to use skin protection?

Dr. Lee:  Regardless of your skin pigment, all people benefit from the use of sunscreen products. In general, I recommend the use of SPF 30 for extended outdoor activities. Although there are strengths rated higher than SPF 30, the additional protection they offer is likely negligible. Look for labels proclaiming “broad spectrum” coverage, which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.

For our younger patients, I recommend finding brands that are “PABA” free, as this chemical could be an irritant to sensitive skin.

Re-applying sunscreen throughout the day is very important. In general, sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours while outdoors and after every exposure to water, despite what the label says.

Also, don’t forget to grab your favorite wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap to protect your sensitive scalp.

What should I look for to see if my skin has been damaged?

Dr. Lee:  Pay close attention to moles, freckles and other bumps. I like using the “ABCDE” rule to help guide my concerns regarding skin lesions.

  • Asymmetric:  Does one side of the skin lesion look completely different than the other?
  • Borders:  Are the outside borders of the lesion jagged and irregular?
  • Color:  Does the lesion contain multiple different colors or is very dark?
  • Diameter:  Is it larger than 0.6mm in diameter?
  • Evolution:  Is it changing in size or character over a short period of time?

If you are concerned about any of these guidelines with respect to a skin lesion, please make an appointment with your doctor so that we can evaluate it fully.

James Lee Meet the Expert

James Lee, MD

Dr. James Lee is a primary care physician at EvergreenHealth Primary Care Lakeshore Totem Lake in Kirkland, WA.

Read Dr. James Lee's full profile

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