Don’t skip the sunscreen and yearly skin screenings during the pandemic, doctors say

SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors say many of us are skipping our routine health check-ups during the pandemic. But preventing skin cancer is especially important now that more of us are enjoying time at lakes and backyard pools.

There are many things you can do to protect yourself and your family before diving in.

Angie Carn makes sunscreen a must for her family before they head out in the sun.

“We’re either on the boat every week, we go hiking once a week, we go swimming,” said Carn, a mother of four girls who lives in Saratoga Springs. “My aunt had skin cancer, and I was not very good about protecting my skin as a child, and so I want to make sure my kids are protected.”

In the summertime, it’s a good idea to make sunscreen your best friend. Look for an SPF of 30 or higher, and make sure to reapply it every two hours, doctors say.

In addition to sunscreen, doctors recommend regular skin cancer screenings.

Dr. Tawnya Bowles, a surgical oncologist at Intermountain Healthcare, says it’s just as important to take care of your skin during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Melanoma is the cancer that we really worry about causing harm to people, because it can start on the skin like basal and squamous cell cancer, but it can spread,” Bowles said. There’s no such thing as a “healthy tan” and sunburns cause lasting damage, she said. “It’s not just cosmetic, it’s not just red and painful. It is changing the skin and making skin cancer more likely.”

Angie knows a little sunblock now is cancer prevention for the years to come. “As you age your skin, it doesn’t look as good, and you’re prone to get skin cancer, and people don’t think they’re going to get skin cancer but it could happen to anybody,” she said.

Staying healthy and happy while enjoying the rays

  • Yearly skin checks can detect spots early that could be early cancers.
  • Along with sunscreen, you can reduce your risk of melanoma by wearing a shirt that covers your shoulders and arms when hiking or boating.


Heather Simonsen

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