Arm Yourself for Prevention

Tips on keeping skin healthy

By Sue Baldani

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and although melanoma is the skin cancer most people are aware of, it’s not the only deadly one. “Squamous-cell carcinoma kills more people now in this country than melanoma and basal cell carcinoma,” says Dr. Gerald Peters of Peters Dermatology Center in Bend. “Those are the two most common non-melanoma skin cancers and they cause a lot of damage.” So, when you’re protecting yourself against melanoma, you’re also protecting yourself against these non-melanoma skin cancers.

Here, Dr. Peters gives us advice on how we can do just that:

One – Timing and avoidance. The midday sun is strong, and it’s better to be out earlier and later in the day.

Two – Protective coverings. There are some really excellent UPF [ultraviolet protection factor] fabrics available now. Also, wear a hat and big sunglasses with UV protection in the 99% range.

Three – Topical solutions. Select products that have physical filters, agents or blockers. We’re talking about zinc oxide and titanium oxide, and for adequate protection, you want products that contain 5% or more of those ingredients. Don’t forget to protect your lips as well. 

Dr. Peters says he’s been encouraging patients to move away from chemical blockers. “They convert ultraviolet into infrared energy, but when you use a physical blocker it reflects the sun off the skin. They also work immediately, not 20 minutes after application.”

Peters Dermatology carries a wide range of high-quality, effective products such as EltaMD®, TIZO, and ALASTIN Skincare®. People often tune out when you speak of statistics, he says, but one thing many do care about is the way they look. “Photoaging makes you look old before your time because those ultraviolet rays destroy the elastic fibers in your skin.”

To find out more about how to protect your skin and get a skin cancer screening, go to

Written for Bend Lifestyle magazine in Oregon.

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