Dermatology worker gets public sunscreen dispenser installed at Mt. Lebanon park
Danielle Deroy Pirain often sees first-hand how sun damage can ravage the human body.
As a Mohs histologist at Vujevich Dermatology Associates in Scott, Pirain processes patients' skin tissue, cuts it and stains it on a microscopic slide to be analyzed for cancer by a surgeon.
Seeking to better protect the public against skin cancer, she took an idea to the dermatology practice: installing free sunscreen dispensers at public parks.
“I am a parent. I am a person who carries sunscreen constantly with me at all times. And I read … a lot of articles about what goes on,” said Pirain, 39.
After the Upper St. Clair resident discussed her idea with doctors at the practice and Mt. Lebanon officials, the municipality installed a free, public sunscreen dispenser at Mt. Lebanon Park last week. Similar to a hand sanitizer dispenser, the park's sunscreen device might be the first at a public park in the state.
“It seemed like a good thing to do for the public to increase awareness of skin cancer and to provide materials that would help prevent that serious disease,” said Rudy Sukal, acting director of Mt. Lebanon's Public Works Department.
Most of the public is aware of the link between sun exposure and skin cancer, but cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are on the rise, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Ultraviolet radiation — from the sun and tanning beds — is a major contributor in most cases, according to the academy.
With sponsorships from Mount Sinai Medical Center and Destination Brands, Miami Beach put 50 dispensers at public pools, parks and beaches in the spring.
Vujevich Dermatology paid for Mt. Lebanon Park's $40 dispenser, Pirain said.
“I'm so excited because it was an idea that I had and I have such a wonderful employer that, you know, said yeah, ‘Let's do it.' And it's raising awareness of skin cancer prevention,” she said.
Mt. Lebanon mounted the device on a metal pole, which it installed in a shaded area near the park's playground, Sukal said.
Melanoma in children is very uncommon, but the melanoma seen later in life is the result sun exposure that occurred early in life, said Dr. Laura Ferris, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh and an academy board-certified dermatologist.
“The sun damage that you accumulate as a child is not harmless,” she said.
White people and men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than others.
Exposure to ultraviolet light is the major risk factor — and the most preventable risk — for melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
In 2010, research found that daily sunscreen cut the incidence of melanoma in half.
The academy recommends that sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 30 be used regularly. That is the type being used in the dispenser at Mt. Lebanon Park, said Dr. Christie Regula. At Vujevich Dermatology, Regula and Dr. Justin Vujevich are associates and practice Mohs surgery, which is a type of cancer surgery developed in the 1930s by Dr. Frederic Mohs.
The practice hopes to put sunscreen dispensers at other parks, Regula said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.