Keith’s Lesson in Sun Safety


“There’s just no way I can stay out of the sun. I mean, I’ve never even had an indoor job!” That’s what my patient Keith told me during our first visit. After working as a lifeguard to put himself through college, Keith became a park ranger, so he spent hours every day patrolling area forests and parks. Part of that time was spent in a truck, but most of it was spent walking and working in the wilderness.

Now in his 40s, Keith rarely used sunscreen of any kind. Even though he was dark haired, Keith’s blue eyes told me he needed more sun protection, since blue eyes are a sign of a fair complexion.

Not surprisingly, he’d had several brushes with a common type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma. A dermatologist had removed the growths and cautioned him to use sunscreen or run the risk of facing more serious problems. But Keith was not complying. “I can’t stand that sun stuff,” he told me.

“They’re all greasy and smell like some kind of perfume. And believe me, I’ve tried them all!”

The solution for Keith was to buy a wide-brimmed hat and jacket with built-in sun protection. That way, his ears and arms (the areas where he’d had previous skin cancers removed) were covered, and he didn’t feel self-conscious about smelling like perfume. I even managed to find a scent-free sunscreen that he uses on days when it’s too warm for a jacket.


Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: June 22, 2012