By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

We all know the importance of sunscreen to help combat it, but sometimes it’s hard to tell how much sunscreen has worn off when you’re outside for long periods of time.

Tatiana Cruz, a junior lifeguard in training, knows that all too well.

“I use a lot of sunscreen, I like to re-load on the sunscreen every two hours”, says Cruz.

She says she’s worried about getting skin cancer, so she’s trying a high-tech wearable called the “My UV Patch” to help monitor her sun exposure.

It contains photosensitive dyes that change color when exposed to ultraviolet rays.

Users scan the patch with a smartphone app and receive sun safety tips based on the results.

“This is a way to tell them when to re-apply, that there is sun damage that is going on — even if you don’t see it”, says dermatologist Dr. Gene Rubinstein.

Sun damage is cumulative, so whether you use the patch or other app-connected wearables, awareness can help prevent skin cancer.

Dr. Rubinstein says, “The wearables have the potential to engage someone like a teenager or a child to where they can understand that there’s a link between how much sunscreen they put on, how much time they stay outside and the sun exposure they get.”

He adds that people should not rely solely on technology when it comes to being sun smart.

Be sure to use sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection and reapply every two hours.

After 20 minutes wearing the patch, Cruz got a red alert.

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“I’m very surprised, I was only in the sun for just a little bit”, says Cruz.

She says her experience will encourage her to wear even more sunscreen in the future.

Dr. Maria Simbra