New products help protect from skin cancer

A doctor does a check for skin cancer on a patient (KOMO Photo)

(Consumer note: Dr. Steven Greene and the Skin Cancer Foundation will be offering free skin cancer screenings on Sunday at the University of Washington. The screenings will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on George Washington Lane Red Square by Meany Auditorium. Look for the screening RV. For more information, go to Hotlinks.)

SEATTLE -- When the sun's calling you outdoors, dermatologists urge you to protect your skin with sunscreen, hats and clothing.

"We know that people who have had 5 sunburns or more in their lifetime double their risk of melanoma,” said Dr. Steven Greene, a dermatologist in Seattle.

Dr. Greene said conventional thinking as to use an SPD of 15, but now he said it must be 30 or higher. And he said it needs to be reapplied every couple of hours, since it wears off and sweats off.

This is one way to help guard against skin cancer, the most common cancer in the human body.

"We can cure at least 98 percent of all skin cancers with comprehensive skin examinations,” said Dr. Greene.

Dr. Greene said when choosing sunscreens, look for ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide.

There's also a new product he said his office is recommending, called Sunforgettable, which he said clients like because it's brushed onto the face and can be color matched to your skin.

Dr. Greene said many of his patients repeatedly ask for a pill and now he said there is one, to at least help with sun conditions.

"This new product called Heliocare, which is a wonderful new innovation; it comes from a fern extract and it lowers our sensitivity to the sun and it offers yet another way to protect from sun damage," Greene said.

The pill is not a substitute for sunscreen, but Greene said it helps those may be allergic to the sun or suffer other issues from exposure.

After taking all of those precautions, Dr. Greene and the Skin Cancer Foundation want everyone to get screened every year for signs of cancer.

"And we're looking for moles that are changing or evolving. We're also looking for what's called an ugly duckling sign -- and what an ugly duckling sign is it's a mole that looks different than all the other moles,” said Greene.

It only takes a matter of minutes to check your entire body, even examining areas you might not think about; the backs of your arms and legs, even the bottoms of your feet and between the toes.

Here in the Pacific NW reflections off the water and snow can expose you to intense sun.

Even on cloudy days up to 80% of the sun's SUV rays can pass through to our skin, so watch that exposure and guard against it.

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