June 23--FAIRMONT -- Beth Santmyire-Rosenberger stands in her office surrounded by creams, lotions and solutions.
Skin protection is the number one concern for the Fairmont dermatologist. She even compiles a list each year of the best skin care products she can find in-store.
"For me, the biggest thing isn't SPF, it's the ingredients," Santmyire-Rosenberger, the lead dermatologist at Appalachian Spring Dermatology, said. "The first thing I do is turn it over, and I like the active ingredients to be zinc or titanium. Every year I go to Walmart and I make up a list of what they sell that I like."
These medicinal lotions come in extra handy during the summertime, when exposure to the sun can result in health issues affecting the body's largest organ, the skin. These issues can take the form of anything from sun burn to skin cancer, which are all related to getting too much sun.
Because of the risks extended exposure to the sun can cause, Santmyire-Rosenberger offered some advice to individuals on how to avoid skin damage in the hot months. She explained that the damage the sun can do takes on a cumulative effect.
"Usually it's going to be number one, the person's sensitivity," Santmyire-Rosenberger said. "And then the other is how much cumulative exposure they've had over time.
"What happens is people get too much sun and it actually damages the DNA," Santmyire-Rosenberger said. "The redness is your inflammatory response to your skin being damaged. Redness from sunburn is really just inflammation, it's your body saying 'Whoa, you've damaged me too much.'"
Depending on one's skin tone, which dermatologists assess on a scale of one to six, its vulnerability to the sun can differ, but care should still be given because extended exposure to the sun can harm anyone of any skin tone.
"The big long-term concern is skin cancer," Santmyire-Rosenberger said. "People can get different discolorations from the sun, everything from me getting freckles to women sometimes will get brown patches on their faces from the sun.
"A type one is somebody really pale like me who freckles versus a type six who is somebody with jet-black skin."
Conversely, getting that summer tan is actually the body's defense mechanism to the sun's rays. But get too tan and the sun will still break through, causing damage.
"Our skin pigment is actually protection, and as much as dermatologists don't like to admit it, even a tan is actually like built-in protection," Santmyire-Rosenberger said. "The more pale somebody is, the less natural protection they have, the more susceptible they're going to be."
For this reason, Santmyire-Rosenberger has more of a negative stance on tanning beds, as they artificially darken the skin while not improving its resistance to the sun.
"The study I like to quote is the study that showed that young women who have tanned at all... they have a six-time increase risk of melanoma," she said. "We have such strong data to show that tanning bed usage can greatly risk. So maybe five minutes of sun everyday outside would be better than going to the tanning bed."
Despite the risks, the easiest way to stave off these skin problems is by applying sunscreen before heading out into the sun.
"As far as sunscreen, generally SPF is a ratio of how long you can be in the sun without sunburn," Santmyire-Rosenberger said. "So if you normally would go out and burn in 15 minutes, SPF 10 means you can stay 15 times 10 or 150 minutes. That's why they say more than a 30 isn't really that much, because in essence you would have to be out 450 minutes and most people are not going to stay that long."
The most important thing to look at in sunscreens, according to Santmyire-Rosenberger, is the active ingredients of zinc and/or titanium, which are effective against the sun.
While not every new spot on the skin turns out to be a problem, Santmyire-Rosenberger simply recommends individuals keep an eye out for any odd looking marks, discolorations or lumps that appear on the skin.
"The bulk of what we do is people coming in worrying about something on their skin," Santmyire-Rosenberger said.
When it comes to treatment after the fact, Santmyire-Rosenberger said the practice will perform necessary surgery, or will refer a patient to another doctor or practice with specified skills.
"We do remove most of the things we find ourselves," Santmyire-Rosenberger said. "If something is very advanced or on the face or a place where I feel like somebody else could do a better job I refer them out."
Santmyire-Rosenberger writes a blog on her practice's website at www.wvderm.com, where she goes in-depth on topics concerning the skin. More information on sun damage can be found there.
Email Eddie Trizzino at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.
(c)2018 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.)
Visit the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.) at www.timeswv.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News