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Beach Season is Here; St. John’s Episcopal Hospital Reminds you to be Sun-Smart

Posted on May 28, 2015

FAR ROCKAWAY, NY (MAY 21, 2015) – From Coney Island to the Rockaways, and further east to the Hamptons, thousands of people will soon be spending days at the beach. While beautiful and relaxing, a day at the beach without sun protection significantly raises the risk of developing skin cancer. "There is no safe way to tan," says Suzanne Sirota-Rozenberg, DO, director of the Dermatology Residency Training Program at St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway and the immediate past president of the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Dr. Sirota-Rozenberg, who also has a private practice in Woodmere, NY, says that sun exposure is the most preventable cause of skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with sun exposure. However, damaging sun exposure occurs not only at the beach, but when the sun's rays are reflected on snow or come through a window. UVA rays are most damaging, and can contribute to skin damage even on a cloudy day.

Dr. Sirota-Rozenberg offers the following tips for reducing the risk of skin cancer at the beach:

  • Apply an appropriate amount of sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day. She says, "One ounce or the amount needed to fill a shot glass is needed" initially and for every re-application.
  • Ensure that sunscreen has an SPF of at least 30 and provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Use a beach umbrella, preferably one with a protective SPF coating.
  • Wear protective clothing with SPF50. These garments are available online and at some sporting goods stores.

Melanoma on the Rise

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and Dr. Sirota-Rozenberg says that the prevalence of this deadly disease is increasing in teenagers and young adults. Melanoma is now the most common cancer among people 25-29 years old, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It is also increasing among young women ages 15-29 due to the use of tanning beds. The risk of melanoma is higher in individuals with red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, or with a blood relative diagnosed with the disease. A previous diagnosis of any form of skin cancer also points to an increased risk.

If you Already have Significant Sun Exposure

Dr. Sirota-Rozenberg explains that although most skin damage occurs during the teen and young adult years, there are steps people can take in order to prevent compounding the damage that has been done. In addition to daily use of sunscreen, she recommends an annual skin cancer screening, also known as a full body check. During this exam, the dermatologist examines the entire body – even those areas not directly exposed to sunlight – for signs of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer. Caught early, most melanomas can be cured.

Dr. Sirota-Rosenblatt reminds beachgoers, "Enjoy the beach and the sun but be smart about it."

Find a Dermatologist Near You

St. John's Episcopal Hospital's Dermatology Division provides care through the offices of its affiliated private physicians and at its Center for Wellness & Specialty Care. For the names of affiliated dermatologists, visit www.ehs.org. Patients without health insurance can call 718-869-XXXX to learn about the affordable dermatology care provided by Center for Wellness & Specialty Care.

327 Beach 19th Street Far Rockaway, NY 11691 | TO REACH US: (718) 869-7000