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The Garden City Telegram
“Two blistering sunburns can
double a person’s risk of melanoma,”
said Dr. Jonell Byers, Ulysses derma-
tologist. “The most important part of
prevention is avoiding the sun.”
Treating patients suffering from
melanoma, the most serious type
of skin cancer, is an important part
of Byers’ practice. She returned to
Ulysses, her hometown, in August
1996. She serves dermatology patients
not only in Kansas but also from as far
away as Nebraska, Colorado, Texas,
Oklahoma, Missouri and more.
The best defense against melanoma,
she said, is wearing proper clothing
and sunscreen if you have to be out in
Staying in the shade during the
middle, sunniest part of the day and
wearing protective clothing such as
hats with at least a 5-inch brim and
long-sleeved shirts is best.
A thin white T-shirt, especially a wet
one many people might wear to the
pool, isn’t going to give much protec-
tion. The sun’s rays can go through
thin material. Denim is a better
choice, she explained.
Clothing designed with a Sun Pro-
tection Factor (SPF) built into it is also
an excellent idea for those spending a
lot of time outside.
“Some people find those more
comfortable than sunscreen,” Byers
said, noting many people dislike the
greasiness of most sunscreens.
But she believes everyone should
wear sunscreen with at least a SPF 15
every day. Those working outside need
to wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
“Many people don’t put it on thick
enough,” she said. Someone wearing a
swimsuit should lather on 1 ounce of
sunscreen. Then, reapply if they get in
the water or sweat, something many
The power of the sun’s reflection off
of water and snow is also important
to remember, Byers said, and that
the sun’s rays are stronger at higher
“It’s also possible to get a sunburn
on a cloudy day,” she said, adding the
sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate through
Ultraviolet rays cause skin damage
Babies younger than 6 months old
should be kept out of the sun. Most
sunscreens are not designed for any-
one younger than 6 months old, Byers
Who is Most at Risk?
Dr. Nathan Strandmark agrees that
protection from the sun’s damaging
rays is important. He is a family medi-
cine physician at Plaza Medical Center
in Garden City.
Sunburns early in life make patients
more at risk for melanoma, he said.
Using appropriate sunscreen and reap-
plying it every couple of hours, or if it’s
been washed off, is vital.
Strandmark requires an annual skin
check for any of his patients with a
family history of melanoma. If a parent,
sibling or child has been diagnosed
with melanoma, it increases the pa-
tients’ chance of also getting it.
Any patient who has a personal
history of melanoma — who has been
diagnosed with it themselves in the
past — Strandmark refers to a specialist
for regular visits.
“I am adamant they go to a derma-
tologist,” he said.
Dermatologists have special tools
By Alesa Meschberger
Special to The Telegram
It only takes two.
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