Ampersand

Plastic Surgeon: ‘The Skin-ny’ on LBI Summers

By JOANNA L. PARTRIDGE | Jul 03, 2019
Courtesy of: Joanna L. Partridge The Partridge family celebrates another summer on LBI – with smiles and skin protection.

I spent every summer on LBI with my grandmother, Marjorie Evanson, who lived on the Island and was the elementary school nurse in Barnegat for over 30 years. Margie was an active member of the Brant Beach Yacht Club, and insisted I join their sailing program. I sailed for long hours in the hot sun on Barnegat Bay for many years, sometimes not even coming in for lunch.

In high school I traded in my boat for a job with the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol. I spent my days walking the ocean beaches as a beach badge checker and my nights attending as many lifeguard parties as I could sneak into! It was a glorious way to be a kid on LBI.

Then, I got my first melanoma.

I don’t really remember putting sunscreen on when I was a kid, but then again, I don’t really remember getting sunburned, either. I remember once having a stinging allergic reaction to sunscreens that had para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) in them. And I remember the thick white zinc that we were forced to wear on our noses if they started peeling.

What I am sure of, though, is that we didn’t have long-sleeved sun protective clothing and hats, like my kids wear now. And I’m also sure that we did not have the same higher-quality sunscreens, including those with zinc, which are available today, as well.

Luckily, my melanoma turned out to be one in its most beginning stages, a melanoma-in-situ. It arose silently, a few years ago, from a large, long-standing freckle on my left arm, slowly changing. It didn’t require a lymph node dissection, and I am considered cured now that I had a big, wide, deep chunk taken out of my arm. But clearly all the years of fun in the sun had taken their toll on my fair skin.

Now, I avoid the sun when its rays are strongest, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and try to have my kids participate in activities that allow the same. If they can’t be out of the sun, then they are protected with hats, sunglasses, mineral-based sunscreens, and sun protective swim tops or clothing. They also know how to reapply their sunscreen every two hours, and they have a variety of sunscreens to choose from.

There have been several news stories about studies looking into the safety of sunscreens. I think this is an important topic, and the fact that there are ingredients in sunscreens that may not be good for our health is a concern. However, the biggest concern is protection from skin cancer. Not every skin cancer kills, but some do, and let’s face it, they are all bad.

The consensus among the dermatologists I know is that any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. If the only sunscreen your teens will reapply when you’re not there is a spray sunscreen, then let them use it. If the only sunscreen your tweens will tolerate is a stick on their face, then let them use a stick for application.

What I use, and recommend for my patients and their families, is the following. The vitamin C serums by SkinCeuticals are not FDA cleared as sunscreens, but do scavenge free radicals and, in my anecdotal experience, help avoid sunburns. They also minimize other sun damaging effects on the skin, such as brown spots, wrinkles and broken capillaries.

My current favorite sunscreen is UV Daily by Elta MD. It has a pump, which I love because I’m lazy, and I can wear it on a daily basis as a tinted moisturizer. My favorite stick sunscreens are Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick by Beautycounter and the Supergoop! Glow Stick.

When sun damage does eventually occur, I treat it with a series of skin rejuvenation laser treatments and with prescription-strength topical retinols.

With the new season underway, I’d like to wish everyone a safe, fun summer – in and out of the sun.

Joanna L. Partridge is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and vice president of the New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons. She has a private practice in North Brunswick, N.J., and offices in Princeton, N.J., and Surf City, at the Beach House Spa. Her website is at partridgeplasticsurgery.com.

 

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.