Sun Safety: Interview

A top dermatologist sets the record straight.

An Expert Shares Her Tips

ICONIC held a brief interview with Dr Marina Peredo, founder of the Marina Peredo, MD, PC Dermatology and Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, New York. Marina, who has an incredibly impressive resume, told us about skin cancer, common skincare problems, and how to protect ourselves.

What are the most common skin problems that often lead to skin cancer? What are the easiest and most basic ways to prevent these problems?

Actinic Keratosis is a rough dry scaly patch or growth that forms on the skin. These usually form when the skin is badly damaged from ultraviolet rays (UV rays). AK’s may turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, or they can run the risk of getting other types of skin cancer. This condition can be prevented by wearing a zinc oxide sunscreen daily and being seen by a board-certified dermatologist on a regular basis.

What increases our risk for this?

Patients who have multiple moles, (dysplastic nevus syndrome), patients with type-one skin type (never tans, always burns), patients who use tanning salons and patients who had several blistering sunburns before age 18 are all at much higher risk for skin cancer.

“Ways to prevent aging and skin cancer include use zinc oxide sunblock, avoid tanning beds and have your skin checked by a dermatologist.”

Yikes! That sounds like me! The sun turns my skin from white to red (usually with blisters) then back to white. How do you know you already have early stages of skin cancer; how do you detect it?

Recognition of changes in the skin is the best way to detect early melanoma. Follow the ABCDE rule (Asymmetry of a mole, Border irregularity of a mole, Color is not uniform, Diameter or change in size, Evolving of a mole that looks different from the rest). If patient sees any of the above, have it checked right away.

How often do I have to apply sunblock? What SPF should I use?

Make sure to use the right amount of sunblock — a shot glass full for each application. Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors every day. When outdoors, reapply every 30 minutes. I recommend SPF 15 or 30. Always reapply after swimming or sweating. The sun emits harmful UV rays year round, plus you have to look out for secondary sun exposure, so sunscreen needs to be applied even when it snows or when it’s cloudy. Wearing protective clothing (like Coolibar) helps and always avoid the sun between the hours of 11am to 3pm.

What is secondary sun exposure, and can it really hurt me?

Secondary sun exposure is the UV rays your skin is exposed to when sitting near a window on the sunny day, in a car, from a reflection on water, and even on a cloudy day. And yes, while you may not get burned, it’s still rays hitting your skin, so you still need to wear sunscreen even when you’re not directly exposed.

How do you teach your patients about sun protection and what advice do you give them?

Pictures tell a thousand words and are a useful tool when trying to show my patients what can happen if they do not take precautions when out in the sun. I always encourage all of my patients, teens included, to wear a zinc oxide sunscreen every day, wear sun protective clothing, avoid tanning beds, and get a spray tan or use self-tanner if you really want color.

Really, the best and simplest advice I could give you is simply to avoid the sun between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.