Dermatologist says sun exposure lasts a lifetime

Tanned Skin is Damaged Skin

Dermatologist says sun exposure lasts a lifetime 

East Carolina University dermatology resident Dr. Randall Proctor likes to take his family to the beach, but he's careful to make sure they're protected from the sun's rays.

"Don't get me wrong; being in the sun feels great. It definitely increases mood," Proctor said. "But all it takes is more than 15 minutes and you're starting to rack up damage on your skin cells that will never go away."

Within seconds, Proctor said, the sun starts to affect skin cells. He said you've probably forgotten about your most recent sunburn, but that sunburn damage lasts a lifetime.

"Ten, 20, 30 years down the line, they're (patients) showing up at the dermatologist not remembering that sunburn at all, but they have several growths or at least one bad growth that has to be cut off or removed surgically," he said.

The skin cancer statistics are worrisome. Proctor said one in five Caucasians will get skin cancer in their lifetime. In eastern North Carolina, it's probably closer to one in three for white males and one in four for white females, he added. On top of that, it's estimated that one in 50 whites are getting melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) which is at record levels, he said.

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Originally published June 21, 2017. Written by Rich Klindworth.

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