Some Truths and Myths About Skin Protection

SunsreenLiving in one of the sunniest, most beautiful places on Earth, sun exposure is a given. If we’re not surfing, we’re snorkeling. If we’re not playing golf, we’re having a barbecue on the beach. Hawaii and sun damage on the skin go hand in hand. At Matsuda, we want our patients to be as educated as possible about the hazards of sun exposure. Let’s see what you know.

UVA vs. UVB

These two acronyms are ubiquitous on sunscreen bottles. But they’re not even remotely the same. Some labels say the sunscreen blocks UVB rays. Others say they are broad based. You need a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Why? They both are beating up your skin. UVA rays penetrate the epidermis and affect the dermis beneath, causing your skin to age and creating the beginnings of skin cancer. UVB rays cause sunburn on the epidermis and also lead to the topical skin cancer lesions.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer

This is true. In the U.S. over one million people each year are diagnosed with skin cancer. Probably double that or more are undiagnosed. Those undiagnosed people are where the danger lies.

If you get skin cancer you die.

This is not even remotely true. Most skin cancers, if detected early enough, are all treatable with surgery. Squamous cell carcinomas and basil cell carcinomas are far less concerning than melanoma, but all skin cancers are treatable, if caught early. That’s why yearly visits to Matsuda Dermatology are necessary, so Drs. Matsuda and Sheu can spot the cancers and pre-cancerous spots before they progress.

Sunscreen prevents skin cancer

Nope. Sunscreen helps block the rays that lead to skin cancer, but just because you have on sunscreen doesn’t mean you can spend every waking minute in the sun without repercussions. Sun damage is cumulative. If you’ve ever received a serious sunburn, like we all did as children, then that damage comes due as an older adult.

If you have lots of moles, you have a higher risk of melanoma

This is true. People with moles, especially large ones, have a higher risk of melanoma. Those moles need to be checked constantly to see if they change shape or color.

How’d you do? Fortunately, YOU don’t have to be the expert because at Matsuda we are. Call us at 808-949-7568 for your yearly skin exam.