Campus News

July 8, 2011

Sun advice: A Q&A with Holly McCoppin, dermatology

Holly McCoppin

Holly McCoppin being interviewed on the Weather Channel's Weekend View.

You don't have to avoid outdoor activities if you practice good sun safety, says dermatologist Holly McCoppin. Emory Report asked the clinical instructor in dermatology in Emory School of Medicine about the best ways to protect yourself in the summer sun.

What is your overall advice for sun safety?

• Try to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when possible. 

• Seek shade when you are outdoors. 

• Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater to all exposed skin surfaces every single day.  Reapply every two hours and after sweating or swimming when outdoors. 

• Wear broad-brimmed hats, long sleeves and long pants to protect your skin.  There are several clothing manufacturers that make sun protective clothing with a UPF [ultraviolet protection factor] value that can help you protect your skin from UV rays.

What would you say to the studies that show that women with tans are thought to be more physically appealing?

Women with skin cancer and early signs of aging are not.

Have you seen or been made aware of an increase in a particular type of disorder or disease associated with too much sun?

There are many disorders associated with sun exposure.  Most prominent in the news recently is the increase in melanoma over recent years.  This increase is most staggering in young adults. 

Is there a way to reverse skin damage from the sun?

The best way to improve signs of sun damage is to start protecting your skin from the sun to prevent further damage.  There are several cosmetic treatments, including laser and light treatments, peels, topical creams, and injectable agents that can help with pigmentary changes and fine lines and wrinkles that result from UV rays, but they cannot restore your skin to its original condition. 


Is there a difference between the type of protection needed for children and for adults?

Both children and adults should be diligent about sun protection.  Involving your kids in sun protective measures both for themselves and for the family can help them develop good sun protective habits.  Sun protective clothing can be very helpful for kids who are at camp all day, where they may not remember or have access to sunscreen for reapplication every two hours.

Is sun safety an issue throughout the year?

UV rays penetrate clouds.  So, even if it seems to be a "cloudy day" or even in winter months, you should practice sun protection.

Is there a disconnect between staying out of the sun to protect your skin and getting the needed amount of vitamin D?

Vitamin D can be obtained through diet and sun.  We recommend that people get their vitamin D through diet and/or supplements in order to avoid the risk of developing skin cancer. 

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