By Dr. Amy Derick
Winter in Florida can be brutal on us, and comical to the rest of the country. But we all know what happens once the temperature hits below 70 degrees. The boots and scarves come out and the fire pit gets lit at night.
But the natives will tell you to dress in layers because come lunchtime, more often than not, the sun has done its job and it’s warm enough to shed those light jackets.
If you’re new here, well, congratulations, you couldn’t have picked a better place to come!
After all, Florida is now the third-most populous state in the United States and one of the top 10 fastest-growing states in the nation.
Winter is still summer for us that call Tampa Bay home. All the rules that apply during the muggy, sweat-inducing summer months, apply all year here. We don’t hibernate, like some of our northern friends, which is why it is so essential to maintain a skincare regimen that includes using sunscreen and visiting your dermatologist.
Individuals here are especially vulnerable to the sun and external conditions because of year-round mild temperatures and the unusually high number of sunny days. You will find people boating on Christmas and visiting the beach in January. This is the Florida lifestyle.
From October to May, every year, we have great weather and sunshine, when people can enjoy outdoor activities in the winter months, whereas in other places they wouldn’t be able to do so.
There are several upcoming Tampa Bay-specific outdoor festivals and activities including the Gasparilla Music Festival, outdoor farmer markets, Gasparilla Distance Classic Marathon where sun exposure is at an all-time high.
While we all appreciate enjoying the beautiful weather that is so favorable for outdoor activities, many Florida residents, and visitors, are highly susceptible to skin problems that require treatment because there are more opportunities to be exposed to the sun.
Florida ranks second, behind Hawaii, for having the highest rate of new melanoma cases, per capita, with approximately 8,000 new melanoma cases reported annually.
Here are some stats:
- 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
- Melanoma is responsible for 75% of skin care deaths, according to the CDC.
- On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if
they have had more than five sunburns, but just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles the chance of developing melanoma later in life.
- There are approximately 8,000 new melanomas reported in Florida annually.
- From 2014 to 2018, 13.4% of melanoma cases were found to be late-stage (regional and distant) in Florida.
This information isn’t being shared to scare anyone. But it’s so important to get screened because early detection is the best way to catch skin cancer before it spreads and becomes much harder to treat. It can save your life!
Here are 5 tips for staying on top of your skin health:
- Wear at least an SPF 30 sunscreen EVERY DAY (not just on your face, but in your WHOLE BODY) to protect yourself from sun damage and re-apply frequently every few hours.
- All ethnicities are subject to skin cancer, so it is important that EVERYONE takes sun damage seriously.
- Individuals should get checked for skin cancer, moles, etc. at least once a year, but quarterly visits are best practice and highly suggested by medical professionals.
- Everyone is different and therefore it is important to form a strong relationship with your dermatologist so you can receive personalized care and treatment plans that are customized to you.
- Where sun-protective clothing, whenever possible, (not just at the beach) due to its UPF functionality, which blocks the sun’s UV-A and UV-B rays
Dr. Amy Derick is a board-certified dermatologist and the co-chief executive officer and chief medical officer of Derick Dermatology.
Derick Dermatology, a provider of medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatologic services, with two locations in the Tampa Bay area. The practice has offices in East Tampa, near the city of Riverview, and South Tampa, in the Westshore area.