On Maui, where thousands flock each year to take home the prized souvenir of a deep, golden tan, Dr. Knox has seen numerous cases of skin cancer, from malignant melanoma to precancerous lesions. While conventional wisdom says to avoid the sun between the hours of 10 to 2, Dr. Knox reminds us that the sun-soaked State of Hawai‘i is one exception to the rule. “The sun is intense all day long,” he said. “The same rules do not apply.”
Skin cancer is a serious concern, he said. To prove his point, Dr. Knox admitted he wears sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 100-plus. “I don’t leave home without putting on sunscreen,” he said.
Maui residents and visitors should wear (chemical-free) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher—or SPF 30 or higher if it is not chemical-free. “If you use a chemical-based sunscreen, you should opt for the biggest number possible,” he said.
In addition, he advises wearing a wide-brimmed hat, UV-blocking sunglasses and protective clothing (long-sleeved, colored fabric) when you are outside in the sun. “If you feel like you need a tan, I suggest looking at a self-tanner,” he said. “You’ll protect your skin from skin cancer, sun damage and premature aging.”
As for the argument that sunbathing boosts Vitamin D levels, Dr. Knox assured that Vitamin D exposure can be achieved through other means. “Eat more broccoli,” he said with a smile. “It’s a lot safer than getting a sunburn.”
He also recommends regular check-ups at least once a year. “Skin cancer can be easily detected and treated, especially if you get a complete skin check at least once a year to see where you stand,” he said. “Evaluation of moles, skin growths and sun damage is important.” Most importantly, he said, “My patients that come in for yearly checkups and check themselves monthly rarely have anything beyond a little bad with an extremely good prognosis.”
Dr. Knox’s skin cancer services include the removal and treatment of skin cancers, topical chemotherapy and cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) for precancerous lesions, second opinions regarding treatment or diagnosis, dermatological surgery, complete skin checks, education and prevention.
According to Dr. Knox, “Our goal at Maui Dermatology is to ensure that our patients, kama‘aina and visitors alike have a positive experience… to facilitate this goal, our dermatology team is dedicated to offering the best patient care possible.”
Maui Dermatology is located at 89 Ho‘okele St., #103 in Kahului. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Dr. Knox at (808) 877-7477 or visit www.mauiderm.com.
Dr. John Knox is committed to educating residents about the dangers of skin cancer and the benefits of sun protection.