HONOLULU (KHON2) — With July being Ultraviolet Safety Awareness Month, a dermatologist has given a couple reminders for Hawaii, as she sees skin cancer patients on a day-to-day basis.

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KHON2.com spoke with board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Luria, with Hawaii Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Centers, about UV prevention and safety.

Unlike most states, Luria said Hawaii sees high ultraviolet radiation, the radiation from the sun, most of the year.

She also mentioned 20 Americans die daily from melanoma, a skin cancer, and that 80% of skin cancer is preventable through UV protection.

Luria said many people think that if someone can tan, they are exempt from skin cancer. However, she said, “There is a false sense of security. If your skin can tan, it does not make you immune from skin cancer.”

“We live in paradise, and I would never tell anybody not to go out and enjoy it. But, having said that, you just got to be smart about it,” said Luria.

What prevention steps should someone take?

  • Wear at least 30 SPF on face, neck and hands everyday, rain or shine.
  • Wear a hat with a full brim when at the beach or in the water, not just a baseball hat.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing or a rash guard when in the water.
  • Seek shade whenever possible; this could be an umbrella or tent at the beach.
  • Wear sunglasses.

When wearing sunscreen, Luria said it is best when applied on dry skin about 15 minutes before an activity, and if someone gets in the water, reapplication after getting out reduces chances of getting sunburn.

If someone does not get in the water but stays in the sun, Luria said to reapply every two hours.

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders actually have a much higher mortality for melanoma because it often goes undetected.”

Rebecca Luria, Hawaii Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Centers board-certified dermatologist

When should someone check their skin?

Luria said this is different for each person and “it’s important that we all do self-skin exams. This means looking at our own skin and be aware if there’s something unusual there.”

About half of melanomas are actually self-detected.

Rebecca Luria

There has been an abbreviation that Luria said has been around for a long time called the ABCDEs.


  • Asymmetry, when one side doesn’t look like the other side.
  • Border, when the border is an irregular shape.
  • Color, when there are multiple colors.
  • Diameter, when something is bigger than the tip of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving, when something changes over time.

“A simplified kind of rule of thumb is beware the ugly duckling. So, if you have one thing that is not like all the others, particularly if it is new or growing, then that should definitely be checked out by a dermatologist,” said Luria.

Some people may say they get their vitamin D from the sun, and Luria said while that’s true, there are some misconceptions.

For someone with fair skin, it will take them a quick time to get the sufficient amount of vitamin D from the sun than someone who has darker skin.

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However, there are many foods, such as fish and leafy greens, to eat that are less harmful ways to someone’s skin to get vitamin D.