Posted on Thursday, Apr 22, 2021 by Frank Hammond, ed. Marya Morgan
(Air1 Closer Look)— “Your skin is your biggest organ, your first impression,” says Dr. Christina Feser of Cumberland Skin Surgery and Dermatology in Lebanon, TN. “A lot of people really take their skin for granted…it has the most diagnoses that are out there in any specialty of medicine.”
The doctor worries about chronic, prolonged, or intermittent-intense exposure to the sun.
“Patients come to me every single day saying, ‘I wish I knew when I was laying out in the sun with babyoil..’ They don’t like the color now, they don’t like the appearance of their skin.”
“For men, the most common area to develop skin cancer is on the back. For females, it’s on the lower legs.” Why? “Because it’s an area that you don’t look at everyday.”
With all the lotions and potions available for skin care, Dr. Feser focuses foremost on sun protection. “I commonly advise my patients to use a sunscreen an SPF 50 or above,” which she insists is especially important if you’re active or in-and-out of water. She personally uses SPF 100 – and she is not a fan of SPF 30 because she finds most people don’t use enough -- or reapply often enough -- to get minimum basic protection. Her preference, in fact, is for people to use sunblocks instead. “I explain to patients that sunscreens are like the screen door at home – they do allow some sunlight through. Sunblocks reflect all sunlight.”
She also reminds us to protect our necks, their ears and even the partline of our hair which leaves the scalp at risk. During peak times of the day (10a-3pm) she considers wide brim hats and other protective clothing items essential. “Our hair is protective, however, with more intense radiation we do need more than just sunscreen.”
And though it she realizes it may be unpopular to say so, she believes “no tan is a healthy tan.”
“A tan means sun damage,” she warns, “Your skin is hurting from any tan you receive.” And tanning very easily or being a person of color does not exclude you from the need to protect your skin. Skin cancer can strike anyone as she has personally treated even teenagers with cancerous lesions. Family history or fair-skin is greater risk, but any one with skin needs to consider the consequences of ignoring it.
Skin needs attention. “Protect it,” urges Dr. Faser. “Its job is to structurally protect everything internally.”
“Even if you have a tendency to develop a good tan, that chronic exposure elevates your risk for development of skin cancer in the future.”