Please introduce yourself — where you’re from, what you do for a living, what you’re passionate about, etc.
My name is Baokim N. Bonelli and I have practiced as a Dermatology Physician Assistant for nearly 8 years in New York City. I received my Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Stony Brook University as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology from University of Connecticut. I have recently moved back to Connecticut, which is my home state, and have started practicing at Brown Dermatology in Rhode Island.
How did you first become interested in dermatology?
I have always had a passion for medicine and helping others. When my father became ill and started developing dermatologic symptoms, I knew that medicine was my calling. Skin is your largest organ and often dermatologic changes can be the first signs of systemic disease. My passion for educating people has only grown during practice which led me to start my Instagram page @derm.minded. I mainly focus on evidence based skincare and integrate some medical and cosmetic dermatology.
Why do you think skin cancer rates are increasing?
I believe skin cancer rates are rising because dermatology providers have become more proficient at detecting skin cancer. The use of indoor tanning, depletion of the ozone, and unsafe sun practices also play a role.
How does sun protection impact skin health?
First and foremost, sun protection helps prevent skin cancer. However, it is also important for preventing skin aging.
How do you include sun safety practices in your daily routine?
I seek shade as much as possible, use broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or more everyday and try to reapply every 2 hours when outdoors for many hours and I wear sun protective clothing and accessories (hats with large and opaque brims, sunglasses, driving gloves). I also try to avoid going out during peak sun hours, which is usually between 10am and 4 pm.
What recommendations do you make to patients who want to protect their skin from UV overexposure?
Again, seek shade when possible, minimize going outdoors during hours of peak sun exposure, use broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or more and reapply every 2 hours if outdoors for many hours. Wear sun protective clothing and accessories. I also recommend getting window tints with UVA and UVB protection if you drive a lot.
What are your top three sun safety tips? (For example, regular skin checks; checking the UV index; SPF50+ sunscreen, etc.)
- Wear sunscreen broad spectrum SPF 30 or more everyday even if it is snowing or raining. I even recommend wearing it indoors as most people can get UV exposure through windows. If your plants can thrive indoors, that means you can get exposed to UV
- Seek shade and wear sun protective clothing and accessories.
- Get annual skin checks.
What is one thing about sun safety/UV overexposure that you wish more people knew about? (For example, photosensitising medications, skin ageing, etc.).
Yes, I encourage sun protection to prevent skin cancer, however, it is also important to note that sun exposure causes 90% of skin aging, which includes loss of firmness, enlarged pores, wrinkles, spider veins and redness, age spots, freckles and hyperpigmentation. Prevention is the best medicine.
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