Practical advice from Watson Clinic’s Dr. Faeza Kazmier

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. It is the most common cancer in the United States, with approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. diagnosed with skin cancer daily. The most common culprit is UV exposure from the sun. Water and sand can reflect and intensify the sun’s damaging rays, and even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can reach your skin.

The good news is that you can practice safety in the sun! Here are a few tips:

Seek shade, particularly between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun’s rays are the most intense.

Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses (to protect your eyes!). For any other sun-exposed areas, apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours after swimming or sweating.

Here are some helpful hints for selecting the best product for you as well as tips on application.

  • There are two basic types of protective lotion: sunscreen and sunblock. Sunscreen works by filtering harmful ultraviolet rays before they can be absorbed into the skin, while sunblock provides a barrier through which no UV rays can penetrate. Sunblock (containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as an active ingredient which is labeled on the back of the container) is the most effective of these two options, though its consistency and obvious appearance on the skin are often regarded as a drawback. Mineral-based sunblocks tend to meet these criteria and are often “reef-safe,” so we may protect our waters while we stay safe in the sun. Only apply those lotions that contain a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • It’s important that you apply the lotion generously to every portion of your exposed skin, including the hands, feet, neck, ears, and the particularly vulnerable areas between your toes. Women should note that the sunscreen contained within their makeup is not usually adequate for a day in the sun.
  • While no sunscreen is completely waterproof, there are some brands that offer over an hour of sun protection even in an underwater environment. Usually sunblocks fare better in the water. It’s crucial that you reapply every two hours you spend out in the sun, and even more frequently if you’ve spent time in water.

Always consult your dermatologist if you discover any new or odd growths on your skin. In fact, you should schedule an annual skin evaluation with your dermatologist regardless of whether or not you detect any unfamiliar blemishes. Only your doctor can properly diagnose these growths and offer effective follow-up treatment.

Once you’ve had your skin checked and are assured your blemishes are not cancerous, there are a host of available options that can diminish their appearance substantially or eliminate them altogether.

The latest laser technologies can target and reduce the pigmentation of one particular problem area while leaving the surrounding region untouched. Brown spots, red spots, age spots, and areas of discoloration can virtually disappear following a minimal number of treatments. Laser treatments can also be used to lessen the fine lines and wrinkles that result from too much time in the sun. 

Many beachcombers may be concerned about the appearance of spider veins. Some even resort to tanning to camouflage the prominence of their appearance. This is a potentially dangerous solution as it only enhances your risk for developing skin cancer. Instead, these patients should seek out the appropriate laser therapies which can reverse the appearance of spider veins. Or, sunless tanner is another good option.

Faeza Kazmier, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon offering minimally invasive cosmetic options, as well as plastic surgery from “head to toe.” Her office is located at the Watson Clinic Women’s Center in Lakeland, where she sees both male and female patients. Dr. Kazmier received her medical degree from Albany Medical College in Albany, NY. She completed a general surgery internship and plastic surgery residency at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She has authored or contributed to various medical publications, received honors from the American College of Surgeons and the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, an Active Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and an Active Member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kazmier, please call 863-680-7676.