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Avoiding deadly melanoma: Dermatologist explains the best ways to stay safe in the sun this summer.

Melanoma cases rising fast in younger people in their 20s and 30s.
Posted at 8:25 AM, May 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 10:25:07-04

BOISE, Idaho — Younger people are falling victim to dangerous melanoma from sun exposure. Doctors say they've seen a huge increase in patients in their 20s and 30's in the past three decades.

  • Dr. Swanson says the best way to avoid melanoma is to stay out of the sun, or wear sun protective clothing and apply a zinc titanium based sunscreen.
  • Melanomas often form on the sole of the feet and doctors don't know why since that area rarely faces the sun.
  • Dr. Swanson says if you use chemical sunscreen make sure it is up to date because some old sunscreens contain chemicals which are no longer allowed.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Ah the sun is shining bright and it’s time to have some fun, so the last thing you might want to hear is:

“Best bet is stay out of the sun.” said dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Swanson.

But there’s a good reason not to strive for that deep tan.

"I would go to see my own dermatologist and she had a sign that said 'the first sign of skin cancer is a healthy tan',” said Dr. Swanson

And in a disturbing trend, many more people in their 20s and 30s are getting melanoma, the most serious and deadly skin cancer. From 1970 to 2009 the National Institute of Health found an 8 fold increase in such cases in women and 4 fold increase in men.

So, outside of avoiding the sun altogether, you can…

"Wear a big hat. They’re cool now. It's cool to wear a big hat!” said Dr. Swanson.

You can also wear highly effective sunscreen clothing.

"J.Crew makes swim shirts. They’re cool now,” said Dr. Swanson.

Or you can wear sunscreen like Dottie Miller.

“I have to protect the skin, so I use anywhere between a 35 and a 45 (SPF) everyday, all day, winter or summer, it doesn’t matter,” said Miller.

Swanson says generally, the higher the SPF, the better, but she says you might want to consider something other than the chemical sunscreens.

“Just stick with a zinc titanium based sunscreen they’re more effective more gentle safe for babies” said Dr. Swanson.

And apparently zinc isn’t as ugly as it once was.

"They’ve don’t magic to the formulation of zinc these days. It's not that thick white stuff that it used to be,” said Dr. Swanson.

So if you have to be out in the sun be sure to wear some sort of protection and don’t forget to wear eye protection, because you can’t put sunscreen on your eyes and the sun does have a serious impact on your vision over time.