Top Dermatologist Explains How To Battle Sun 0

HOUSTON, Tex. — Dr. Susan Chon is a professor of dermatology and director of the Skin Cancer Screening and Education Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Tex. MD Anderson is one of the top medical facilities in the world in dealing with cancer.

Dr. Chon explains how baseball coaches and players can protect themselves from the sun in this special question and answer session with Collegiate Baseball.

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

COLLEGIATE BASEBALL: Louisville Head Coach Dan McDonnell has run the numbers and has been in the sun 45,000 hours during his 30-year coaching career. Many veteran baseball coaches have similar exposure hours. Because people have not protected themselves adequately against the sun, they have faced serious skin damage with pre-cancerous lesions taken off and even died from melanoma cancer. What is a great strategy for minimizing the damaging effects of the sun for baseball players and coaches in amateur and pro baseball?

SUSAN CHON: In previous years prior to COVID-19 during spring training with the Houston Astros in Florida, we did screenings of players and coaches in their organization and educated people about the damaging effects of the sun to exposed sun. A lot of NCAA sports are outdoors. We try to impress on athletes and coaches to do whatever they can to minimize the sun exposure on the most sensitive areas such as the face, arms, hands, ears and neck. You can’t avoid sun exposure with practices and games being outdoors. But they can put on zinc oxide based sun screen. It doesn’t sting, and there are no fumes because it is not a chemical. It is water resistant and stays in place easily. If people can put this on their face, ears, neck as well as their arms and front and back of hands, it will help tremendously. We also do a lot with the PGA tour as well.

CB: Dan McDonnell firmly believes that the top of baseball caps offer little protection against the harmful rays of the sun. All you have to do is look through the top, underside of a baseball cap in the sun. You will see light coming through holes. He backs up his claim by saying that too many coaches in baseball have had pre-cancerous growths on their skull taken off. Is the skull protected enough with typically baseball caps that are worn by players and coaches in the game?

CHON: If the main portion of baseball caps are made of a solid material and not mesh, athletes and coaches are protected to an extent. If a mesh material is used, then yes, you will be able to see through it easily. The most important thing is using UPF 50 clothing and hats if possible. A lot of the jerseys used are probably thick enough. In golf, players have been using Solar Sleeves when they practice. It essentially is thin, stretchable UPF 50 rated material that covers open arms all the way from the wrist to the mid to upper arm. You can get them in any color. Golfers wear their regular golf shirt and then put on Solar Sleeves for sun protection. When they are finished with their round of golf, they walk off the course and pull off their Solar Sleeves. Unlike sunscreen, there is no mess, no grease or tacky feeling on the skin. Some golfers and caddies really like it. There are golfers who feel quite comfortable with them over their arms because their skin doesn’t burn. This material blocks the sun the entire time they are out golfing. It definitely offers sun protection that doesn’t sweat off. Baseball players and coaches can easily use these sleeves which offers sun protection when they are in the sun. You can find them at www.amazon.com

CB: Many years ago, it was popular in baseball for outfielders to wear flip sunglasses. Then it became common for outfielders to wear regular sunglasses in blinding sun areas when catching fly balls. Phil Nevin, the first player picked in the 1992 MLB Draft from Cal. St. Fullerton, was a trend setter. He began wearing Oakley Radar EV sunglasses when he played in the field and also batted. It quickly caught on. You also began seeing a lot of coaches wearing sunglasses. Should coaches and players be wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun and possibly see better at the same time? Different colored lenses are better suited for different sun conditions.

CHON: Sunglasses are big in professional golf. The name a lot of pro golfers utilize is called Maui Jim which has a lot of lens colors which cuts the green and allows you to see balls better. Plus, they are light weight. The Maui Jims are also polarized. They are excellent for outdoor activity. A lot of baseball players don’t use sunglasses because they may interfere with their game. I don’t know how coaches feel about players using sunglasses as well.

To read more of this story, purchase the Sept. 2, 2022 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The Sept. 2 edition includes three stories on the subject of Skin Cancer & Coaching. It includes the main report, a special feature about the University of Louisville’s Dan McDonnell and his skin protection advice after spending 45,000 hours in the sun over 30 years of coaching. In addition, we include a special question and answer session with one of the top dermatologists in the nation in Dr. Susan Chon of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Tex. who explains how to battle the sun with important tips, including clothing, protective sleeves and hats.