Can a device save your skin from sun damage?

By Frank McGeorge - Reporter

DETROIT - Do you really know how much sun you're getting?

Dr. Frank McGeorge recently tested out a device that promises to help you keep track, so you don't suffer from any of the risks associated with too much exposure.

The device is called the June. It's worn on the wrist and sends alerts to a smartphone when it's time to seek shade or reapply sunscreen.

It sells for $129 on Junebynetatmo.com, but can also be found on Amazon.com. It comes in three colors, has two different straps and can also be clipped onto clothing.

According to the June's website, the device takes into account skin type and UV exposure and comes up with personalized daily sun dose. It sends warnings if the wearer gets too close or surpass the dose.

McGeorge recently spent a couple of days wearing it.

After charging the device, McGeorge downloaded the corresponding app and went through the setup, which requires answering a few questions about skin tone and tendency to burn. After that, he hit the Detroit riverfront on a sunny day to await the first alert.

After about 10 minutes, McGeorge got an alert to put sunglasses on, a hat and apply an SPF 50 sunscreen.

After 30 minutes, the June reported McGeorge had reached 50 percent of his maximum daily dose of sun.

Beaumont Hospital dermatologist Dr. Wendy Sadoff said incremental sun exposure -- things like sun through a car window -- quickly adds up.

"A tan is an indication that your skin is trying to prevent further damage," Sadoff said.

But sunburn isn't the only thing to worry about.

Too much sun damage can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the most deadly form.

Sadoff said melanoma is on the rise in people of all ages.

"I'm seeing it more than ever, and in a younger population, so a lot of melanoma in people that are in their 30s, when you're just getting your family going and probably not thinking too much about your own health and health maintenance. You're paying for the damage you did when you were younger," she said.

In addition to the medical impacts of sun damage, there are also cosmetic consequences.

"Sun is the leading cause of our wrinkling, blotchy-ness, the brown large freckles," Sadoff said.

She liked the idea of the device as a means to get people thinking about their sun exposure, but she thinks it will appeal most to people who are already concerned about the sun. But one major plus, "gadgets really appeal to people that are in their adolescence and in their 20s, and that's a population where we're seeing the incidents of skin cancer really climb," Sadoff said.

The bottom line, Sadoff said she doesn't think it will replace the general recommendations of using a broad spectrum sunscreen first thing in the morning and reapplying every two hours.

For more information on the types of skin cancer and ways to spot them, visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

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