Man warns of dangers of unprotected sun exposure - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Man warns of dangers of unprotected sun exposure

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The official start of summer is still three weeks away, but sunburn season is in full swing.

One man is warning about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure.

About 2.2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.

Clifford Bragg is currently undergoing pre-cancer treatment due to not using sun protection. He hopes that by sharing his story, it will prevent someone else from going through what he is going through.

Bragg has worked out in the sun his entire life as a train conductor, but he never knew the damage he was causing to his skin by not wearing protection.

"I had a sore on the top of my ear," he said. "I always wore a cap, but it didn't protect ears and facial area, and then I had one on my hand, and they said it was precancerous. And they gave me a crème and I started applying to my hands and facial area, and it started showing up."

He dermatologist prescribed a cream that adheres to any damaged cells on the skin.

"I was stunned at first," he said. "Along with my wife, didn't realize I had this much damage. A lot of people don't realize they have this much damage. They need to see a dermatologist if they see any bumps or sores."

Dr. Guy Petruzzelli is an ENT who says people are not aware of how devastating the sun can be on unprotected skin.

"Fair skin have a higher risk of developing skin cancer," Petruzzelli said. "Just because you don't burn doesn't prevent you from getting skin cancer."

While the majority of skin cancers aren't life-threatening melanomas, they can still cause disfigurement. Sun damage also causes premature aging. So what can you do to prevent being exposed?

"The Best way to treat skin cancer is to prevent it, and the best way to prevent it is to prevent direct exposure to the sun," said Petruzzelli. "Use a lot of sunscreen, wear a shirt and hat. Use sun protection and don't get sunburn."

Bragg hopes by sharing his story, he can help others.

"This excruciating pain I have in the ears and facial area, please get protection," Bragg urged. "This is 50 plus years of working outside and not using protection, and somebody needs to know about it.

Here are some tips to protect you from sun exposure:

Avoid peak sunlight. Exposure to ultraviolet rays reaches their peak in the summer between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Cover exposed skin as often as possible. Sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat keep the sun off your arms, ears and neck.

Regularly examine your skin for suspicious moles or marks.

Most people only need to be seen by a dermatologist once every two to three years.

The easiest way to ensure your skin is protected is to regularly apply and reapply sunscreen.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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