Sunscreen & Melanoma

Sunscreen & Melanoma

Someone described this winter to me as “bipolar”; either super awful or not to bad, but changing quickly and unexpectedly.  I am just ready for some warm temperatures and some sunshine.

Sunshine something we all require and yet too much sun exposure and it becomes harmful to our skin.  Sunshine boosts our mood and helps our bodies produce Vitamin D a vital requirement for good health.  Too much sunshine and we risk skin damage and skin cancer or Melanoma.

1% of all skin cancer is diagnosed Melanoma, but a large majority of skin cancer deaths are caused by Melanoma.

The darker your skin color the less likely you are to have a melanoma.  In 2019 The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be 96,480 melanomas diagnosed and 7,230 people will die of melanoma.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors:

Excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun, tanning bed or sun lamp.

Frequent sunburns in childhood increase your risk.

Skin that has many moles.  Moles are just small pigmented tumors.  Most are not a big deal at all but there are some warning signs to watch for.

Fair Skin, Freckles & Light Hair – If you have light skin, blonde hair and easily sunburn you need to pay particular attention to how much time you spend in the sun.

Family history of melanoma increases your risk.

A weakened immune system increases your risk.

Age – Most skin cancers appear around the age of 63.  But this is not a hard and fast old age problem.  People of any age can develop skin cancer.

Male – Men have a higher rate of melanoma.

Skin Cancer Prevention:

Examine your own skin at least once a month.  Checking for any changes and noting changes in any mole that is changing in size and color.

Use sunscreen and avoid artificial UV rays.

Have regular skin exams by a dermatologist.

What you need to know about sunscreen:

Sunscreen should be worn between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.

You are getting exposure to the sun’s rays even in cloudy or overcast weather.

The SPF rating on a sunscreen bottle is telling you the number of hours it will take for you to burn.  For example SPF 30 means it will take 30 hours to burn.  Do you really need SPF 100?

Lotions seem to last and apply better than sprays.

There is no such thing as water proof or sweat proof.  If you are sweating or swimming you need to reapply.

The National Institutes of Health recommends these sunscreen rules:

  • 1 teaspoon of sunscreen for the face, head and neck
  • 1 teaspoon each to the upper extremities
  • 1 teaspoon each to the front torso and the back torso
  • 2 teaspoons each to the lower extremities

Be aware of the expiration on your sunscreen product.  You will want to replace to get the most benefit.


There are various treatments for melanoma.  If a skin biopsy comes back positive for melanoma then you must consider your alternatives.

  • Surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Your doctor will help you determine the best way forward based on the size and scope of the c