How to stay sun-smart as the weather continues to heat up

It’s warming up, and before your kids hit the pool, we know you remind them to put on sunscreen. But what about you?
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s warming up, and before your kids hit the pool, we know you remind them to put on sunscreen. But what about you?

That sunburn may hurt your skin now but may set you up for a big problem in the future.

The last thing you’re thinking about is the serious dangers that could come with that tan. Chances are you’ve either dealt with skin cancer or know someone who experienced it firsthand.

“You really just don’t, you know, you never think it’s gonna happen to you,” said Senior Investigative Report Liz Owens.

What started as a fun day with her daughter spiraled into a cancer discovery.

“I’m at the Miller Theater. I was in line at a concession stand. And this lady behind me grabbed my arm. She’s like, ‘This is gonna seem weird, but I really think you need to get this checked out’,” she said.

She was pointing at a spot Owens never thought about.

“It was a little spot I had all my life. I never really looked at it because it’s behind there,” said Owens.

While skin cancer can be genetic, she says she was an avid user of the tanning bed, which made her spot noticeable.

“One of the signs is like if you know, a mole or something just begins to change shape. It was kind of like out of sight out of mind. It was those tanning beds all those years,” she said.

Here’s what you can look for.

Dr. Kathryn Anne Potter is a dermatologist at Augusta University. She said, “Any new lesion. It’s not going away. So for example, seems like a bug bite seems like a pimple, a new brown spot that doesn’t resolve within several weeks should get evaluated, especially if it’s growing quickly, or bleeding.”

She says skin cancer is a bigger threat than you realize.

“As far as nonmelanoma skin cancers, basal cells, and squamous cells, as well as melanomas makeup. They’re the highest number of cancers diagnosed every year in the United Atates,” said Potter.

The midday hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. are the most dangerous, meaning you may need more than just sunscreen.

“Even better than sunscreen, we like sun-protective clothing. Those broad-brimmed hats, the long sleeves, you can get them that are pretty breathable these days. That way you’re not worrying about needing to reapply often,” she said.

Most importantly, doctors say it’s a race against time.

Owens said: “If I waited if that stranger had not stopped me, it could have been too late for me.”