Use sunscreen to avoid burns, cancer

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2018

As summer sets in along the Gulf Coast, Pearl River County residents will want to apply a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher to protect them from the risk of skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation states that skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells caused by damage due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds.

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Christie Kellar, nurse practitioner at Family First Healthcare, recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher on a regular basis during the summer. Individuals with a lighter complexion should use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, she said.

Kellar said UV rays from tanning beds are 15 times more harmful than exposure to the sun and therefore increase a person’s risk of skin cancer. Tanning beds are suspected to increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer by 75 percent, she said.

Anyone who is allergic or sensitive to sunscreen should protect their skin by wearing long sleeved clothing, hats and sunglasses and avoid direct sunlight exposure, Kellar said.

Children between the age of 1 to 18 years are at a higher risk of skin cancer, she said.

Children younger than 6 months should not be exposed to the sun or sunscreen, since their skin is sensitive to sunscreen.

Kellar said sunburns can be treated with an ice pack or over the counter medication, but medical care should be sought if skin breakage is observed.