Sunscreen Does More Than Just Prevent Wrinkles - A Cautionary Tale

9 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

My husband and I grew up in an era when sunscreen was something you wore to the pool -- and even then, it was mostly for girls, or for people who burned easily. My husband was neither, of course, and he's still pretty cavalier about the sunscreen.  

Until today, that is.  

My husband -- who is 43 -- has a history of troublesome moles on his back. To his credit, he goes to the dermatologist for regular checkups, and keeps an eye (typically mine) on anything that looks unusual. About three weeks ago, he went for his regular exam and the doctor decided that one particular spot on his back needed to come off. So he removed it (eew) and sent it for a biopsy.

Ten days later, he called my husband to say that the pathologist "didn't like what he saw." Of course.

This morning, my husband had a precancerous growth removed from his back. It's not a big deal -- the doctor does the proceedure in the office, with a local anesthetic; Wade has had this done before. But today, the proceedure took two hours and ended with twenty stiches in my sweet husband's back.

Ouch.

He'll be fine, of course, once the gigantic incision heals (OUCH) but it's a good reminder that everyone needs to wear sunscreen all the time. Let me say that again: EVERYONE needs to wear sunscreen ALL THE TIME.

Seriously.

But more than that, you need to keep an eye on your skin. The American Cancer Society recommends both a regular self-checks and annual dermatologist checks. They recommend having a spouse or friend help with self-checks (I keep an eye on my husband's back, for example); the ACS also reminds patients to discus any concerns with your dermatologist.

What are you looking for? A variety of things: any growth or sore that doesn't heal, a mole with an asymmetrical edge, or a mole that is growing.  You can see a full description of what to watch for here.

And if you need more motivation, you can read about Wendy's skin cancer experience. Wendy ignored a freckle on her neck, despite the fact that it was growing and changing shape and hurting.

The doctor made a 4 1/2" incision just about on the center of my neck.
The tumor was much larger than anticipated and it took over 75 stitches
to close the area. I am very sore and the area is definitely tender. I
am having some trouble raising and lowering my head, also moving my
head from side to side. I think it will just take some time for the
healing process to take place.

Wendy is doing much better now, and when she's not writing about cupcakes (mmmm cupcakes) she shares her skin cancer product finds. Her story serves as a good reminder about why sunscreen matters (and shows you why I'm not so worried about my husband's twenty stitches, although I am feeling for him).

Wendy's not the only one with product reviews, though --  Rachel Bilson has teamed up with Jergens to promote their Glow in the Dark initiative. Thanks to Erin Flaherty at Allure for the heads up.

Now put some sunscreen on. I'm serious.

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