EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Many people have been itching to get outside as the sunny, spring weather arrives this season; but they’re forgetting a big rule: sunscreen this time of year. Many of us know we're supposed to wear sunscreen outside, but still don't. In this month's Buddy Check 13 with Marshfield Clinic Health System, we're talking about what you might not know to help prevent skin cancer.
Both Jason Schultz of Eleva and Morgyn Steinke of Alma said they don’t wear sunscreen outside; surprisingly they’re not the only ones!
“I don't like the smell of it and because I used to lifeguard I don't like the feel of it anymore,” Morgyn said.
The CDC says around 70 percent of women and nearly 85 percent of men do not use sunscreen regularly on their face or exposed skin when they're outside for more than an hour.
“I see a lot of patients, who say well ‘I’m very careful about what I do out in the sun since I was 30 or since I had kids;’ but it’s what they did when they were 20 years old, baking in the sun or using tanning beds, that comes back to haunt them,” Dr. Lawrence Scherrer said, a dermatologist at Marshfield Clinic.
But he adds, that doesn't mean shy away from sun screen now, now as every year nearly 5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer.
“Any little bit helps,” Dr. Scherrer said.
“If I’m going to be out in the sun I try to wear long sleeves or a hat,” Schultz added.
When you think of skin of cancer, the mental image that usually comes to mind is a big, unflattering scabby spot. “Whether it’s a red spot, you’re looking for something that stands out as being not right, an ugly duckling.” Dr. Scherrer added.
"The ugly duckling" or a melanoma spot is a very dangerous form of skin cancer, but not the most common.
“Melanoma is something I’ll see patients once or twice a month,” Dr. Scherrer added. “Basal cell cancer, I see people up to once or twice a day. So it’s much more common but it’s not deadly the way melanoma is.”
So why not wear sunscreen?
“It’s something I don't really think about,” Steinke said.
“Why do people forget to take their pills? Because it’s not in the room that they have their pills in when they think about it,” added Dr. Scherrer.
While the face is the most common area to develop skin cancer, it also varies between men and women. Men are more likely to see spots of melanoma on their back while women are more likely to see spots on the back of their leg.
So when you're looking for sunscreen, Dr. Scherrer says to look for anything SPF 50 or over. When you go to apply it you should first start with a lotion or cream, and if you're not going to reapply the lotion every 2-3 hours, that’s when you should go for something like a spray.
To help keep yourself ahead of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends checking yourself once a month. This way, you'll also get a picture of what's normal so it's easier to spot if something changes.
“Some people get a little bit over exuberant and say ‘I look every time I take a shower.’ It doesn't really help. It’s like watching your kids grow. You don't notice something changing its easy to miss something that's growing slowly over time,” Dr. Scherrer said.
So with spring in full bloom, don't forget a few teaspoons, could help save the largest organ on your body.
Dr. Scherrer says an easy way to think about how much sunscreen you need to apply is by using teaspoons: 1 teaspoon per arm and 2 teaspoons for the chest and the back.
This segment is sponsored by Marshfield Clinic Health System.