Protecting your Skin: Tips from a Dermatologist

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness month – but taking care of your skin is of everyday importance. We spoke with Dr. Daniel Dapprich, an MSU College of Human Medicine alum and dermatologist at Dermatology Associates of West Michigan, a sponsor for MSU Gran Fondo 7! 

Read our interview with Dr. Dapprich, who provided great insight into skin cancer and how to best protect your skin.

What are the most common types of skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer overall in the United States, the most common types being basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.  We also diagnose and treat melanoma often, and its incidence is on the rise. 

What are some warning signs to look for when it comes to skin cancer?
Various mnemonics (such as the ABCDE system) exist regarding whether a mole is concerning, but I think it is best to keep the recommendations simple when looking for skin cancer. I tell my patients to look for the “ugly duckling.” This is a lesion that looks different than your other skin lesions. New or changing lesions are also concerning. If you notice an “ugly duckling” or a new or changing lesion on your skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist.

What are some small lifestyle changes people can make to protect their skin?
The most important single risk factor for skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation exposure in the form of natural sunlight and tanning beds. Therefore, anything that decreases this exposure is helpful in protecting your skin. Seek shade (especially between 10 AM and 2 PM), wear protective clothing (including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses), apply sunscreen, and avoid tanning beds.

How often should people check their skin?
I would recommend once a month. Make sure to use mirrors or a family member to check areas that are hard to see yourself.

What should someone look for when buying a sunscreen?
The best sunscreen is one you don’t mind using, which is often based on personal preference regarding the vehicle (lotion, cream, spray, gel, stick or powder) and ease of use.  Ideally, it should be labelled as broad-spectrum and water-resistant, with an SPF of 30 or higher. You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply it every 2 hours, every 80 minutes when swimming or sweating.

Two broad groups of sunscreens exist: chemical (these become less effective with continued exposure to ultraviolet radiation) and physical (titanium and zinc, which act more as microscopic reflectors for ultraviolet radiation and maintain their effectiveness with continued exposure).  Both categories are effective.

A recently published, small study has raised concern regarding the absorption of ingredients that are in chemical sunscreens. Although there is no evidence that this is harmful at this point, it is clear that excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure is harmful. Those concerned about this potential absorption may opt for a physical sunscreen containing titanium or zinc.

Avoid combination products that include both a sunscreen and insect repellent, since the frequent reapplication may lead to too much insect repellent being applied.  Most people don’t apply sunscreen in adequate amounts. You should apply 1 ounce (a shot glass) to cover all exposed areas of your skin.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Although skin cancer is more common in people with fair skin and other risk factors, everyone is at risk for skin cancer. It’s never too late to be consistent with sun protection. Many people find peace of mind with a skin check by a board-certified dermatologist. It could save your life!

What motivated you to get into the field of dermatology?
I had a positive experience working with a dermatologist in medical school. I realized through that experience and others that there are many features about dermatology I enjoy. The skin is one of the few organs you can easily see and examine, and it can show signs of problems with other organ systems. I enjoy the wide variety of problems with which I can help patients. Dermatology allows me not only to see patients for clinic visits, but also to do minor surgical procedures, and interpret pathology of skin biopsies.

You are an MSU College of Human Medicine alum! Can you tell us a little about your time as a student there?
I was fortunate to be part of the MSU College of Human Medicine as a medical student. The faculty and experiences during that time provided a solid foundation to build on when I went to the Mayo Clinic for my dermatology residency and dermatopathology fellowship. Since I started practicing in Grand Rapids with Dermatology Associates of West Michigan in 2007, I have enjoyed giving back by working with medical students and residents as Assistant Clinical Professor with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. We are so excited to be involved with the MSU Gran Fondo this year and appreciate its contributions to skin cancer research and awareness!

Join the fight against skin cancer on June 22! You can sign up to ride, volunteer or donate at

Cyclist Spotlight: Jeffrey Hendricks

george-and-jeff-hendricks-pic.jpgJeffrey Hendricks, MD, is a MSU College of Human Medicine graduate who started Rize Performance, a sports nutrition company. This year, his company is a sponsor of the MSU Gran Fondo and Dr. Hendricks is participating for the first time!

Q: What are looking forward to most at this year’s ride?

Several things! First, I heard the pace is really fast- 26-28 mph on the flats-  I am looking forward to seeing if I can hang on, and if so, for how long!

Secondly, I’m really hoping other docs from MSU College of Human Medicine are riding. I would love to meet and chat with them during and after the ride.

Also, I can’t wait to see family and friends that I haven’t seen in a while (as I currently reside in North Carolina).

Jeffrey Hendricks, MDQ: How are you connected to MSU?

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids and attended MSU College of Human Medicine.  While I attended the rival school Univ of Mich undergrad, my friends from high school attended MSU and I spent many weekends enjoying the tailgating, live music at Small Planet, and other fun stuff in East Lansing.  I have many great memories from campus!  My medical school years were a little more subdued, but I still enjoyed mountain biking around Rose Lake to decompress.

Q: Tell us about your company and how it started.

Rize Performance is a Sports Nutrition company focused on producing research supported, innovative new products for endurance athletics.  It started when I was a triathlete and felt there was a lack of good products available for me to use. I have always been a little obsessive about trying to improve performance. This is partly due to the fact I am not a gifted athlete, but I love to compete. I always need to work a little harder to perform well.

M&M Labs is my sister company which designs custom nutraceutical products for other businesses around the USA and throughout the world. Both companies are the distillation of my personal passions, medical education and experience, and research history. It keeps me pretty busy but honestly, I feel like I am retired and just doing the things that I love. I consider that feeling a gift and appreciate it every day.

Q: Do you have a connection to skin cancer? What is your motivation to get involved with the MSU Gran Fondo?

I would say I have a strong connection to cancer in general. Several direct family members including my sister and father both have bravely, and successfully fought cancer- twice! I watched with humility and admiration as my sister courageously fought off a significant breast cancer. Not only did she fight it and win, she wrote a bill to help women get more aggressively screened if they have dense breast tissue. The bill passed through the house and senate and was recently signed into law in Michigan.  She did this during chemotherapy, which sounds unbelievable, but to those who know her this is not that surprising. She also suffered from a non-melanoma skin cancer and had it successfully removed.  She has stayed strong and active with aggressive nutrition, complementary medicine, and traditional treatments. She is a big advocate for women, women’s health, and cancer prevention.  In my opinion her diagnosis, her recovery, and her activism has become a gift to the cancer community. I truly believe that due to her efforts, many women will now be diagnosed with cancer with plenty of time for a cure.

My father on the other hand, is 76 and has recovered from two different cancers.  He tells me he feels great, and he is an amazing energetic and healthy person. He wonders when he is going to feel like he is 76.  We joke that he gets cancer every once in awhile but other than that is perfectly healthy.

So I have plenty of reasons to be involved both personally and professionally, and I also believe that consistent and intense exercise such as cycling has powerful preventive benefits. I love to ride!

Thanks for joining this year’s MSU Gran Fondo, Dr. Hendricks!

Cyclist Spotlight: PJ VanDyken


PJ VanDyken will ride his sixth MSU Gran Fondo as part of the Herman Miller Team on June 23. Herman Miller is the presenting sponsor of the MSU Gran Fondo.

PJ VanDyken has participated in the MSU Gran Fondo since the beginning. As a supporter, fundraiser and rider since 2013, he plans on doing the same again on June 23.

He got involved with the ride through Herman Miller, where he has worked as a product support specialist. The West Michigan furniture company is the presenting sponsor for the MSU Gran Fondo.

“Herman Miller has been involved with the MSU Gran Fondo since it started with support and participation touching almost every aspect,” said VanDyken. “There truly is a great cycling culture at Herman Miller and the MSU Gran Fondo is an event our company looks forward to.”

Herman Miller Team - Ross Pennington

Brian C. Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Herman Miller (center) rides alongside his employees at the MSU Gran Fondo. Photography by Ross Pennington.

 PJ’s favorite part about the event is the time spent after the ride with friends, coworkers and other participants. “This is a great time for storytelling and celebrating, all while sharing that moment in life with others that have the same passion for riding bikes and giving,” said VanDyken.

Through years of riding the MSU Gran Fondo, he has learned how skin cancer has affected some of his Herman Miller family. The team’s commitment continues to grow.

“The year, we want to have our biggest team and raise the most donations yet!”

 PJ encourages his coworkers and others to get involved with the event.

“While there are so many ways to contribute to our community, I believe the MSU Gran Fondo is a great way to get outside, ride, volunteer and just have a great time, all while contributing to the continued research for the cure to skin cancer,” said VanDyken. “Not to mention all the fantastic food, drinks and entertainment that participants and volunteers get to enjoy!”


MSU Gran Fondo is proud to partner with our presenting sponsor Herman Miller