Ask the Dermatologist

By Dr. Miranda Whitmer
Ask-the-Dermatologist

Miranda Whitmer is a Florida native and grew up in Pensacola, Florida. She graduated with honors earning a B.S. in Biology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. After successfully completing her medical degree at the University of Florida, earning honors and election to the National AOA Honor Society, she completed her residency in Dermatology at the University of Florida. Dr. Whitmer is Board Certified in Dermatology and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Mohs Surgery. She is an avid University of Florida football fan and cooking enthusiast.

Q. Don’t I need to get sunshine to increase my vitamin D levels?

A. Many recent studies have suggested that low vitamin D levels may be associated with poor health. Although we aren’t sure whether increasing vitamin D levels can improve our health, health care providers do suggest optimizing your vitamin D levels. While getting sun can increase our vitamin D levels, the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin greatly outweighs the benefit. Oral supplementation of vitamin D is extremely safe and easy, so stay out of the sun and take a vitamin instead.

Q. Is it OK to use a tanning bed if I only go every once in a while?

A. The answer to that is an emphatic “NO.” Some studies estimate that using a tanning bed even once before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by up to 50 percent. With one American dying every hour from melanoma, it’s just not worth the risk.

Q. How can I prevent wrinkles?

A. The foundation of any anti-aging regimen is sun protection. Be sure to use a quality sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day and reapply every two to three hours. Professional skincare advances have given us many choices to slow and reverse the aging process. These include topical products with retinoids, antioxidants or antiaging peptides, as well as procedures such as microneedling and laser resurfacing. Be sure to consult with a dermatologist to tailor an anti-aging regimen unique to your personal skincare needs.

Q. How important is an annual skin check if I don’t have anything wrong?

A. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. With ever increasing numbers of skin cancer each year, it is extremely important to be proactive in taking care of your skin. The truth is many of my skin cancer patients weren’t even aware that they had a problem until a professional evaluated their skin. The most important aspect in the fight against skin cancer is early detection. See your dermatologist for an

Q. I use sunscreen, but I still end up getting too much sun. What are some guidelines on how to use sunscreen effectively?

A. Sunscreen can be very effective in preventing aging of the skin, skin cancer and sunburn if used correctly. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to cover for both UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of at least 30. When applying sunscreen, be sure to apply to all areas of sun-exposed skin. You should apply one heavy-duty coat and then a second heavy-duty coat. The average adult needs to use approximately 1 ounce or one shot glass full of sunscreen for one application. Apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure to allow the product to dry and become active on the skin. While no sunscreen is truly waterproof, sunscreens with water resistance may afford better protection. Reapply sunscreen every two to three hours or after excessive sweating or swimming. While in the sun, consider using other measures to limit sun exposure such as wide brim hats, sunglasses and protective clothing.

Adults need to use approximately 1 ounce of sunscreen for one application. That’s about the same amount a shot glass will hold.