The first sign is an irregular, sometimes rough patch of skin.
Or it could be a discolored patch on an ear.
Or a mole that is growing irregularly, maybe resembling reddish cauliflower.
Dr. John Brantley, Baton Rouge dermatologist and former LSU basketball player, years ago warned that these were the first signs of skin cancer. Most times it was the result of prolonged exposure to the sun and most times the result of sunburns at an early age.
Brantley’s advisory was a warning because if diagnosed early there are ways to beat skin cancer, which otherwise can be fatal.
Zachary dermatologist Dr. Laurie Harrington and some of the top bass anglers on their Elite Series stop at Toledo Bend all reinforced the message earlier this month.
Harrington said that years ago most dermatologists’ main job was treating acne, but precancerous treatments make up most work now.
She said awareness is the biggest step in beating skin cancers, and that most treatment is minor surgery to remove the affected areas.
For the bass fishermen, veteran Shaw Grigsby among them, the issue is working in the sun for days on end just like construction workers and others.
“We cover up now. We’ve learned about clothing and sunscreens and the need to prevent sun damage,” Grigsby said last year.
Most pro anglers use long-sleeved, wick-away shirts rated up to 45 SPF to protect arms. Most wear long pants and hats with long bills and “skirts” that extend from the back to cover their necks and ears.
Some wear gloves with open fingers to protect the backs of their hands and soft face covers to keep the sun’s UVA and UVB rays off ears, nose and cheeks, the high points on their faces.
Harrington said fair-skinned people are more prone to damage from the sun, but that darker-skinned folks can have the same problems with prolonged exposure to the sun.
“Everyone needs to use sunscreen when they’re outside, and they need to apply it about a half hour before they go outside,” Harrington said.
She said high SPF sunscreens (sunscreens range from 15 SPF to 100 SPF) provide better protection. And “dabs” of sunscreen aren’t enough protection.
“Apply about one ounce at a minimum,” she said.
“Apply it to ears, nose, cheeks, then all areas of the skin that will be exposed. Once for an entire day isn’t enough.”
Harrington recommended applications as often as every two hours, possibly less often when the sun is lower in the sky, like the fall and winter months, but more often if there’s a chance the sunscreen can be washed off.
For outdoorsmen, she reinforced the pro bass fishermen’s suggestion about wearing SPF-rated clothing, and said most of the problems dermatologists see today came from patients who suffered sunburns in their younger years.
“Anything that keeps the sun off your skin helps,” Harrington said.
“It’s important to catch any problems as soon as possible, and it’s equally as important to protect your skin today.”
The toll road
The folks who manage the new toll road from Leeville to Port Fourchon last week abandoned the pay-as-you-go kiosks from Galliano to Golden Meadow and Leeville in favor of an automated toll booth at the foot of the southbound lane of the high-rise road over the Lafourche Parish marshes.
The move resulted in lines as long as three-quarters of a mile and waits as long as 40 minutes to pay the minimum $2.50 toll.
All kiosks are closed and the only way to prepay is at the GeauxPass location in Golden Meadow or online at http://www.geauxpass.com.
Tangipahoa no wakes
The Tangipahoa Parish Council will meet Monday night on a no-wake-zone ordinance for several parish waterways, including:
- Tangipahoa River from its intersection with La. 22 to Lake Pontchartrain.
- Bedico Creek from Bedico Landing to the Tangipahoa River.
- North Pass Channel between Lake Pontchartrain to Lake Maurepas: From South Pass for one mile west from its intersection with Interstate 55 to Lake Maurepas.
- I-55 Canal from South Pass northward to the end of the I-55 high-rise bridge south of Ponchatoula.
- From the railroad bridge on South Pass to its mouth at Lake Pontchartrain for all boats 25 feet long and longer and camp sites will be in effect from 6 p.m. Fridays to 10 p.m. Sundays and all holidays.
If the ordinance passes, a public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 9 at the parish courthouse on East Mulberry St. in Amite.