Beach Bound? Get A Free Skin Cancer Screening

Jul 3, 2014

Are you beach bound this weekend? That is, after Hurricane Arthur clears out?

If so, you already know to pack the sunscreen, slather it on (a lot of it, two coats), and reapply after a couple of hours. But here's some more information about why to reapply, which kinds of sunscreens and what SPF are best (and what that means, anyway), and more about the latest developments in sunscreen technology - below.

First, though, this news: The Rhode Island Dept. of Health, together with Rhode Island Hospital and Sen. Jack Reed, will be offering free (!) skin cancer screenings at five beaches this July and August. The "Sun Smarts" campaign kicks off Monday at the Scarborough Beach Pavilion in Narragansett at 10 am with the first free screenings by dermatologists and dermatology residents affiliated with Lifespan hospitals. Here's the schedule for the next screenings.

Now for some sunscreen tips and news:

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. 50 is better if you want to filter out a higher percentage of UVB rays. But no sunscreen can filter 100%.
  • Broad spectrum means the sunscreen protects you from the sun's UVB and UVA rays. UVB is associated with sunburns, and UVA rays are associated with signs of aging. They both damage the skin and could lead to skin cancer.
  • Experts say you should slather on at least an ounce, and then another coat. Newer sunscreens don't tend to break down in the sun as much, but the sunscreen could wear off after a while, so it's best to reapply if you're staying out in the sun.
  • There's movement on Capitol Hill to press the FDA to move more quickly to approve new sunscreen ingredients. Looks like it's been a while since the agency last approved one.
  • Lots of surprising facts about skin cancer here, also from the Skin Cancer Foundation, including this one: the incidence of squamous cell skin cancer has risen nearly 200% in the last few decades.

Have a safe and healthy Fourth of July holiday!