Source: Ryan Alves, The News-Enterprise
Warmer days now are upon us and soon families all over the county will be spending their summer outdoors, soaking up the sun. But local health officials are reminding residents that fun in the sun comes with a warning: Be thoughtful of how many UV rays you’re soaking up.
“Staying out of the sun is the key,” said Dr. Ashley Kerekes, a plastic surgeon at Hardin Memorial Health. “And you should be wearing sunscreen every single day, not just when you head to the lake or the ball field.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
May is skin cancer awareness month. To help fight the disease, the American Academy of Dermatology is kicking off the month with Melanoma Monday, the first Monday in May.
Statistics say melanoma is the world’s deadliest form of skin cancer, killing one person every hour.
HMH is supporting the campaign locally, by urging the community to get skin checks at their physician’s offices or a dermatologist.
“Prevention really is the key, so getting on top of it early is so important,” Kerekes said.
Kerekes almost has reached her one-year anniversary with the health group at her Robinbrooke Boulevard clinic. She started her practice in August 2016, which fully complemented the hospital’s breast cancer care program.
But since then, Kerekes hasn’t been working with just breast cancer patients.
“We’ve been seeing a bigger variety than what I anticipated, including a tremendous amount of skin cancer,” she said. “That’s come from our relationships with our local doctors and local dermatologists.”
Kerekes said the increase in cases likely is because of Kentucky’s rural communities.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of farmers. And it’s not just females, we’re seeing a lot of males too,” she said. “In Kentucky, we usually get a lot of sun exposure, and people don’t like sunscreen. No one wants to go through that extra step.”
Kerekes said lips, noses and ears are becoming more common spots for skin cancer.
“Ears are vastly under protected. People just don’t think about ears, but they are more apt. We’re also seeing an increase in skin cancer on scalps, especially men with bald heads. We’re trying to get people to wear hats,” Kerekes said. “Daily skin care is also key. A lot of people don’t realize that our left side gets more sun because it’s our driving side.”
Patients range in age, but Kerekes is noticing skin cancer more frequently in the older generation, she said.
“I think our generation has become more aware of the negative effects of the sun,” Kerekes said. “But the older generation, some of them were laying out with baby oils trying to get as much as they could. Eventually, it catches up to you.”
Kerekes said another prevention method could be wearing longer sleeves on especially
“They do such a good job of making long sleeve shirts that are breathable now,” she said. “But people should also know that just because it’s overcast out, doesn’t mean you’re not getting any sun.”
She said finding a sunscreen with a broad spectrum of coverage for UVA and UVB rays is key and getting the right sun protection factor for the situation.
“If you’re headed to the beach, you might need something with a higher SPF than daily sunscreen,” Kerekes said.
Part of the treatment process at her clinic involves a specialized, medical-grade skin care line called ZO Skin Health.
Products range from acne and anti-aging creams to cleansers, to sunscreen to hydrating creams.
“Everything is medical grade and has to be monitored by a physician,” Kerekes said. “It’s very unique. And not just your average skin care line that you can buy at a store.
“It’s really great because it really is about skin health,” Kerekes said. “It has something for everyone.”