What You Need to Know about Skin Care in Tulsa and Oklahoma

September 2, 2021
William Hanner D.O.

With the summer’s heat in high gear, you probably can not help thinking about how the sun is affecting you. All of those visits to the area lakes and the local parks, together with backyard barbecues and pool time, all add up to hours spent in the sun’s rays. And while a tan may look nice, skin problems—particularly skin cancer—should not be taken lightly. 

It is estimated that around 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the US. Skin discolorations and aging are also a result of too much sun exposure. But the good news is, damage to your skin from the sun can be significantly reduced with smart, preventative skincare. And today’s medical solutions for skin problems can improve your lifestyle. Start with these basics about caring for your skin in today’s harsh weather conditions.

Why Is Oklahoma So Tough on Skin?

In the summertime, the sun can be blistering hot in our area. But even if the temperatures are mild or the days are cloudy, that does not mean the sun is going to go easy on your skin. Ultraviolet radiation can penetrate the cloud cover and is present even on cold days. These UV rays are responsible for damaging your skin. If the sun is up and it is daylight, these rays can penetrate your skin.

So does your skin get a break in winter, when it is a lot less sunny? Not exactly. Oklahoma’s cold, windy winter months can also be very dry, and the lack of moisture can make your skin chapped. A routine that keeps your skin moisturized and cleansed, with proper use of sunblock, is smart at any time of the year.

How Does Sun Exposure Affect Your Skin?

As mentioned above, the culprit for many skin problems is the sun’s UV radiation. There are two types of UV rays, and both can affect your skin negatively:

  1. UVA rays — These sun rays cause your skin to tan, burn, and ultimately age. UVA light is strong throughout the year, and it can penetrate cloud cover easily, so you can not avoid it. They can even penetrate window glass, such as in your car or home. UVA light gets deep into your skin’s layers, and it is proven to contribute to skin cancer.
  2. UVB rays — Ultraviolet B light can fluctuate in strength and are strongest between late morning and mid-afternoon, especially in warmer months. But UVB rays are still present at other times of the day and year, causing sunburns and blistering. UVB light does not go as deep into your skin as UVA rays, but it can still cause enough damage that it can lead to cancerous growths.

How Skin Cancer Develops

The main way that UV radiation leads to melanomas and other forms of skin cancer is through repeated, prolonged exposure to the sun without proper protection. Over time, the cumulative effects of this radiation penetrating and burning your skin can lead to cancerous growths, all of which are most likely to appear on areas of your body that are exposed to the sun.

In addition, frequent or severe sunburns can also play a role in causing melanoma, which is more dangerous than other common forms of skin cancer because it can spread throughout the body if not caught early. 
Some research even indicates that UV rays not only damage skin but can also weaken genes that help suppress tumors—making it more likely that skin damage can turn into cancerous growths.

Can a Tanning Bed Cause Skin Cancer?

In a word—YES. Even though a tanning bed is inside, away from the sun, you are still being exposed to UVA radiation. It is the UV radiation that causes problems, so you are not avoiding chances of cancer by using a tanning bed.

Unfortunately, tanning beds are actually worse for you than being out in the sun because they use only the more damaging UVA rays. People who use tanning beds run a greater risk of developing cancer at some point in their lifetime.

Does Skin Type Matter in How Likely You Are to Develop Skin Cancer?

There are plenty of myths about how the shade of your skin can affect your chances of getting sunburns, skin discolorations, age spots, and melanomas. But the reality is, everyone’s skin is affected by the UV rays that can cause skin damage. No matter what skin type you have, you should take appropriate precautions to prevent burns, age damage, and skin cancer.

Tips to Help Prevent Sun Damage and Promote Good Skin Care

  • Use sunscreen every day — Walking to your car, grabbing the mail, watering your plants — your sun exposure adds up quickly, and you may not even notice it. For proper skin cancer prevention, get in the habit of using sunscreen daily on your face, neck, arms, and other areas commonly exposed to sunlight.
  • Reapply protection as needed — The general rule of thumb is to slather yourself while a fresh layer of sunscreen every 45 minutes that you are in the sun. Also, reapply protection after you have been in the water.
  • Know your skincare products — For everyday prevention, a sunscreen with SPF 15 may be sufficient. If you are going to be in the sun for a long period, SPF 30 or higher is a good idea. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen to get protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Choose water-resistant products for times you will be swimming or sweating a lot.
  • Do not stress about Vitamin D — Yes, getting vitamin D the natural way, through sunlight, is valuable. But it does not take long. Just 10-15 minutes a day in the sun is plenty of time to help you get a dose of vitamin D.
  • Seek the shade as much as you can — The best way to prevent skin cancer is to limit your time in the sun. Wear long-sleeved tops, wide-brimmed hats, and UVA/UVB-resistant sunglasses. Look for shady spots to sit at the lake and in your backyard.
  • Take good care of your skin in other ways — Beyond preventing sunburns, you can help your skin stay in good shape with basic skincare routines, such as moisturizing regularly to prevent dry skin and using hyaluronic acid serums and supplements to speed healing and keep your skin supple.

What to Do if You Suspect Skin Cancer

If you see signs of skin damage, it is a good idea to consult a doctor with experience in skincare about your symptoms. Remember, the best way to address skin cancer is through early detection and proper treatment. And your doctor’s help can make all the difference.

Proper Skin Care Is a Lifetime Process—and You’re Worth It!

When it comes to addressing skin issues such as sun damage, subcutaneous lesions, and possible skin cancers, the knowledgeable, caring team at Midtown Surgical & Skin Institute. We offer skin evaluations, treatments, and surgery for squamous cells, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Contact us to set up a consultation today.

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