As the weather gets warmer and you spend more time outside basking in the sun's rays, it's time to think about protecting your skin. To answer common questions about caring for the body's biggest organ, we turned to Dr. David Bonney, a dermatologist with the Paramus office of The Dermatology Group.
Q. Now that it's spring, should people start wearing sunscreen?
People don't appreciate that they have to protect from the sun year round. Skin damage is an accumulation of sun over time. You should wear sunscreen and moisturizer every day.
Q. Should we use a stronger SPF sunscreen in the spring/summer?
I tell patients to use an SPF 15 sunscreen in the winter. All other times, you should use at least SPF 30, and really fair-skinned people should wear SPF 50. Anything above that doesn't make a difference.
Q. For people with oily skin, it's hard to find a non-greasy moisturizer-sunscreen. Can you recommend any?
There are prescription products to treat the oil on skin. For over the counter, I like a lot of Neutrogena and CeraVe.
Q. What about moles? When should we be concerned?
I tell my patients to check for the ABCD's. "A" is for asymmetry – if it looks very different and isn't round or oval. "B" is for border irregularity. "C" is for color. Is it multiple colors? Does it start to get blacker? "D" is for diameter. Is it growing quickly?
Family history is very important. If you have moles and melanoma in your family, you should come in for a whole body check. People with fair skin and who work outdoors – like lifeguards – should come in once a year. It takes five minutes.
Q. What about those expensive spa treatments like chemical peels. Do they really make a difference?
I believe in peels. We have aestheticians in the office who do chemical peals. It's definitely a skin rejuvenation. We do TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peels and glycolic acid.
Q. What about retinol creams (Vitamin A)? I've been hearing a lot about them; do they really work?
[It] helps women who are worried about aging and sun damage. It's a slow process – there is cell turnover and fading of brown sun spots.
Q. What's the cheapest way to have beautiful skin?
Drink enough water, use sunscreen and moisturize.
Q. Can adults have acne?
Adult acne is more of an inflammatory condition that is stress- and diet-related. For kids, it's all hormones.
Q. What are your thoughts on tanning beds?
Tanning beds are a nightmare. We're seeing a lot more younger women [who use tanning beds] with moles that are not cancer yet but dysplastic [pre-cancerous].