Is it true that most damage to the skin is done in childhood?
Dr. Beer: It’s actually a myth that 80 percent of sun damage to the skin is done before age 18. Only about 23 percent of a person’s lifetime exposure occurs by age 18. Adults over 40—especially men—actually have the highest annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Is there any such thing as a safe tan?
Dr. Beer: No. Every time you tan, your skin gets damaged, which ages it and increases your skin cancer risk.
Why should people with darker skin need to worry about sun exposure?
Dr. Beer: While Caucasians are the most prone to skin cancer, no one should be complacent. African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latinos who get melanoma—a serious form of skin cancer—tend to get diagnosed later, when the disease is more advanced and the survival rate is much lower.
What type of sunscreen is best?
Dr. Beer: Use a sunscreen with a high SPF number that contains avobenzone and oxybenzone, which protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. When outdoors, reapply every two hours.
When examining their moles for signs of trouble, what should people look for?
Dr. Beer: Just remember A, B, C, D, E. Tell your doctor about any mole that shows these signs:
Asymmetry: One-half of the mole has a different shape than the other.
Border: The border is irregular or poorly defined.
Color: The mole is multicolored.
Diameter: A mole is bigger than a pencil eraser.
Evolving: A mole is changing in appearance or looks different from other moles.
Does the number of moles you have matter?
Dr. Beer: Yes. People with more than 100 moles are especially at risk for developing skin cancer.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have possible symptoms of skin cancer, it’s important to see your doctor for a screening.