By Steve Blanchard - July 08, 2021
As summer heats up, more of us will be spending time outside. As you’re making plans for the pool, beach or other outdoor activities, doctors want to stress the importance of using sunscreen to protect against sun damage and potential skin cancers. The message is especially important for men, as a recent study published in the American Academy of Dermatology found the melanoma mortality rate has been rising in males over the past three years. The reason? It really all boils down to who’s applying and using sunscreen properly.
"More women get melanomas on their legs, but for men melanomas appear more on the trunks of their bodies."- Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of Moffitt Cancer Center’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology
“Men and women have different behaviors, unquestionably,” said Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of Moffitt Cancer Center’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology. “More women get melanomas on their legs, but for men melanomas appear more on the trunks of their bodies.”
That data correlates with how men and women experience sun exposure, he said.
Melanoma accounts for roughly one percent of skin cancers but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. The risk of being diagnosed with melanoma increases with age, but it is also one of the most common cancers in young adults. The majority of new melanoma cases occur in white men over the age of 55, but the cancer is also common among women age 50 or younger. According to the American Cancer Society, almost twice as many men will die from melanoma than women.
One reason for that could be because women take a more proactive approach when it comes to skin care overall. Men, unfortunately, don’t always pay as much attention to their skin and are less likely to see a doctor if something suspect appears on a part of their body.
“Sunscreen and skin care should be an important component for all of us, regardless of gender,” Sondak said. “Men need to get better about protecting themselves from the sun, including using sunscreen properly and applying it thoroughly.”
Dr. James Grichnik, a dermatologist at Moffitt and chair of the University of South Florida’s Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery, suggests men ask for help from a spouse or significant other to ensure they are properly protected.
“It’s always important to think about sun safety and it’s important to cover the back of your arms and other hard to reach places,” he said. “Sprays are convenient, but you can inhale some of those products, which should be avoided,” he said.
Grinchnik also suggested using sweat-resistant sunscreens on your face, as they are less likely to drip into the eyes when you perspire or get wet.