AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– As the big July 4th weekend is approaching, no doubt many of you will be spending time at the lake, the beach or the pool, we couldn’t pick a better time to remind everyone about the importance of protecting your skin.

MCG dermatologist, Dr. Kendall Buchanan joins me now with a whole lot more including that new kind of microscope you just saw that may eliminate the need for some biopsies.

“It’s a very sort of high end device that it’s been around for a few years now but at MCG, we’re very fortunate to have this with us to sort of help us aid in diagnosing skin cancer. If we can prevent a biopsy, it’s an unnecessary procedure and it’s not always gonna be possible because a biopsy for diagnosing skin cancers is typically the gold standard but we can help use the confocal microscope in addition to what we see with our dermatoscope which is sort of like our stethoscope of the skin to further kind of aid in potentially either diagnosing the spot whether it’s a benign growth or a mole or it’s a skin cancer.”

Sunscreen is a must!

“You know, sunscreen is sort of like one part of the equation or one tool that we have in our toolbox to help prevent sun damage which is typically caused by UV radiation. So there’s UVA rays, so I always remember A stands for aging and then UVB rays so B stands for burning. And so sunscreen is one part of that and you want to look for the words, broad spectrum- it’ll protect you from both the UVA and UVB rays.”

And when it comes to SPF, the numbers can be confusing.

“So in general, the American Academy of Dermatology, we recommend at least SPF 30, all that means is that in the studies that were done, it blocks about 97% of the sun’s rays. Now you do see SPF 100 or SPF 70 and so, those can afford a little bit more sun protection but in general, if applied correctly and in the right amount, SPF 30 is more than adequate to kind of cover most of those suns rays.”

It’s also a good idea to wear a wide brim hat to protect our ears, sunglasses, and then sun protective clothing. So you can put on a shirt that has UPF 50 and you don’t have to worry about reapplying sunscreen as often.

“Skin cancer often will develop as a new spot so, there’s three types of skin cancers and they can present in different ways. So a darker spot, a lot of people worry about those spots because of the risk of melanoma. So specifically, if you have a lot of molds and you notice one mold changing or one mold that doesn’t look like the other molds that you have, that would be something to see your dermatologist about. And then oftentimes a rapid growth or something that causes some damage to your skin like ulceration or it starts to be extremely itchy or bleeding of a new spot, those are all signs that you should probably see your dermatologist.”