July is Ultraviolet Safety Awareness Month

July is Ultraviolet Safety Awareness Month

July is Ultraviolet Safety Awareness Month

Is a Tan Really Worth It?  Is sunscreen really worth the hassle?  YES, because skin cancer is the risk.

Basal Cell Carcinoma skin - C44.xxx; Squamous Cell Carcinoma skin – C44.xxx; Melanoma skin – C43.xxx

If you grew up in the 80’s like me, baby oil with iodine or Hawaiian Tropic were your best friends for a great summer tan.  “Fast forward” to 2022; I found out that all that time in the sun without proper protection came with a price.

In 2022, I went to the dermatologist for a yearly skin check.  They found a spot on my back that required removal (0HB6XZZ, Excision of back skin, external approach).  The final diagnosis was basal cell skin cancer (C44.519, Basal cell carcinoma of skin of other part of trunk).  I wasn’t too worried because it’s not uncommon for someone my age to have it and it was on my back so no one would see the resulting scar.

Then the next year during my yearly skin check, I had a very small rough patch removed from side of my nose.  A couple of weeks later, I received the unsettling news that this small rough patch was squamous cell cancer (C44.321, squamous cell carcinoma of skin of nose).  The removal wasn’t so easy this time.  The dermatologist performed a Mohs procedure (0HR1X74, replacement of face skin with autologous tissue substitute, partial thickness, external approach) which required removal of the area, microscope review and then additional sections until they got clean margins.  The next step was for the plastic surgeon to do a skin graft.  They excised a small piece of skin from behind my ear to use as the graft for my nose (0HB4XZZ, Excision of neck skin, external approach).  A pressure bandage was then sutured to my skin.  The bandage had to stay in place for 10 days.  After removal, I was required to wear a bandage for an additional 3 weeks.  My skin has healed nicely and I am glad we got it early.  Now when I go out, sunscreen is my new best friend!

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) says that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime and is the most common cancer in the US.  They recommend the following for safe sun protection:

  1. Seek shade – the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 am and 2 pm
  2. Wear sun-protective clothing – sunglasses with UV protection and clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) on the label.
  3. Apply sunscreen – broad spectrum, waterproof SPF 30 or higher (my dermatologist recommends SPF 55 for faces). Sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.
  4. Avoid tanning beds. They actually increase your risk of skin cancer with their intense UV radiation.

Take care of your skin!

Michelle McKinney, RHIA

Manager, Consulting Services


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