Rebeccah Kellman always wanted to be a nurse.
“My dad had cancer when I was teen and when he was admitted to hospital, I was obsessed with what the nurses were doing to him. From that point I knew I wanted to work in health care.”
Kellman has always loved adventuring outside and that passion brought her to Canmore and eventually to dermatology – her other passion. Shortly after moving to the mountains from Edmonton, Kellman landed a job at a dermatology clinic in Canmore and began her journey of skin.
“My job in Canmore led to me other opportunities and my nursing job in Calgary where I work with five board certified Dermatologists who specialize in cosmetic derm, so botox, filler and so much more and medical dermatology which focuses on skin cancers, rashes, hair loss and removals.”
Since Kellman shares the same enthusiasm about the outdoors as she does about skincare, we asked her to give us a few tips on taking care of our skin in the sun. Here is what we learned.
51° North: What do you most love about skin?
Rebeccah Kellman: I love derm, our skin is a largest organ and what I love most is that derm is very visual. I can look at someone and know ‘they never wear sunscreen’ or ‘yeah you have eczema or you have skin cancer.’ I also love that I can educate and help patients.”
51: What is the biggest mistake people make with their skin?
RK: I think the biggest mistake people make is that they put on a chemical base sunscreen then they don't reapply it and complain that they have gotten sunburned.
There are two types of sunscreens that are chemical based. Most people use the kind that lasts 90 minutes. There is nothing wrong with using this type, but when it gets absorbed into the skin, it is no longer effective, hence why reapplication is so important.
Mineral based sunscreens have only two active ingredients – Zinc and Titanium. This is a physical blocker which sits on the surface of your skin and does not absorb. These sunscreens last four hours. These are usually recommended for more sensitive skin or for more sun exposed parts (face, ears and hands.)
Unfortunately, mineral based sunscreens do not come in a spray and they are a little bit more money, but are much better for the environment.
51: What are some musts people should do for their skin during hot summers?
RK: Wearing a good hat (bucket hats are best) – sunscreen minimum of an SPF of 30! Do not forget your ears! And, reapply! Wear protective clothing if you are unable to reapply sunscreen. Of course drinking plenty of water, not just for skin but for your overall health.
Having any sunburn increases your chances of skin cancer. UVB/UV rays attack the epidermis and can have lasting effects later in life.
51: What are some tips for taking care of sun damaged skin?
RK: SUNSCREEN! Once you have sun damage it's permanent and some sun damaged areas can turn into basal cells or squamous cells, which are non deadly skin cancers but can cause other issues to your skin left untreated.
Melanoma is the deadly type of skin cancer that comes from pigmented moles. So if you have a history of sunburns or a family history of melanoma, see your family doctor for a referral for a dermatologist.
51: What are some things your “future skin” wishes you would do now?
RK: Even though I am Black, I still need to wear sunscreen.
I learned in dermatology Black people will die from melanoma before it is ever caught because of the stereotype that Black people do not need to wear sunscreen or that we don't get skin cancer.
Everyone of every skin tone/type, should be wearing sunscreen. Skin cancer should be taken as seriously as any other type of cancer.