Over a recent 4 year period, melanoma rates in Minnesota increased by more than 35% for both men and women. Since melanoma can be a deadly form of skin cancer, this is extremely concerning to Minnesota residents and dermatologists. Skin cancer expert Dr. Tareen notes that, “It is reasonable for Minnesotans to want to escape the cold winter weather and head to the beach this time of year, but its important to protect your skin from UV damage while you are vacationing. You should choose a sunscreen that has at least SPF 30 and is labeled ‘broad spectrum’, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. I also advise my patients against use of tanning beds prior to their vacation, as clinical studies have proven time and time again that tanning bed exposure increases your risk of melanoma even more than natural UV exposure. The number of young patients I diagnose with melanoma and evolving moles, called dysplastic nevi, is increasing every year. It is scary to think that the tanning industry is still promoting artificial tanning as a healthy behavior.”
Here are Dr. Tareen’s tips for protecting your skin during the upcoming spring break season:
- Avoid tanning booths prior to your vacation – there is nothing safe about getting a base tan. It only increases your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.
- Remember to pack a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. The sunscreen should be labeled as ‘broad spectrum’, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays from the sun.
- Embrace the shade! You can still enjoy the beach while lounging under an umbrella; Dr. Tareen recommends a wide-brimmed hat when out in direct sunlight.
- Sun protective clothing can look great, while protecting your skin from UV damage (did you know that a white tshirt only offers an SPF 8?)
- Visit your dermatologist at least once yearly for a skin cancer screening. We recommend self-exams monthly at home; if you notice any new or changing moles, visit your dermatologist right away for evaluation.