Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Sun and Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is the #1 most diagnosed cancer, and it continues to increase in prevalence.  Every year, over 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed.  Almost 60,000 each year are diagnosed with melanoma, which is a more serious skin cancer.  About 7,800 of the 10,600 skin cancer deaths are caused by melanoma.  The non-melanoma cases have been on the rise and are a cause for concern.  Most cases of skin cancer are due to long-term or intense sun exposure, tanning beds, increased exposure to UV light, ozone depletion, and increased detection.

What can you do?

Yearly skin exams by your doctor, and monthly self- exams can help with early detection.
You should check all areas of your body – even those not exposed to the sun such as scalp, palms of hands, soles of feet, underarms, etc.  Use a mirror for places that are hard to see.

Look for the “ABCDs” of moles and melanoma
A. Asymmetry
Most melanomas are asymmetric (a line drawn through the middle would not split it evenly in half).
B. Border
Melanomas have irregular borders, scalloped edges or notched edges. Normal moles have a smoother border.
C. Color
Melanomas have varied shades of brown, tan or black, and may later progress to red, white and blue. Normal moles are usually a single shade of brown.
D. Diameter
A melanoma may be larger than a regular mole, or at least the size of a pencil eraser. They may also be smaller.

Smart Sun Exposure

Get some sun, but don’t stay out long enough to get burned
Use a sunblock of SPF 20 or higher
Use a hat, umbrella and sunglasses (UV-absorbing lenses) to block the sun
Avoid tanning beds
People with dark skin may need 6-10 times more sun exposure to get healthy levels of Vitamin D

Health Realizations, Inc. / The Skin Cancer Foundation / The American Cancer Society

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summertime Skin Care Tips

Summer is upon us once again, and it’s time to remember to take extra daily precautions with your skin.  In order to maintain the health and integrity of your skin, please remember the following:

  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, and then at least every 2 hours thereafter (use more frequently if you are sweating or swimming). Slather on at least a shot glass’ worth!
  • Select cosmetic products and contact lenses that offer UV protection. The active ingredients in sunscreens can lose their potency, so check the expiration date.  It is better to start fresh each summer.
  • Never rely solely on cosmetics for sunscreen protection.  There are many sunscreens available in non-greasy formulations specifically for the face.  These are easy to use under cosmetics.
·         Wear sunglasses with total UV protection (UVA and UVB)
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats, long sleeved shirts, and pants when possible
  • Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and to notice any changes or new growths
  • Eighty percent of a person's lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18. As a parent, be a good role model and foster skin cancer prevention habits in your child!
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • People often forget to protect their scalp—and end up with a burn in their part. Mist your scalp and hairline with a spray sunscreen.
  • Drink plenty of water.  All of your body, including your skin, needs it!

 In case you are wondering what will happen if you forget these tips too often, or have had prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun, the following are effects of sun exposure:

·         Pre-cancerous (actinic keratosis) and cancerous (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma) skin lesions (these can look like moles or changes in moles, so please see your doctor if you have concerns)
·         Benign tumors
·         Fine and coarse wrinkles
·         Freckles
·         Discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation or melasma
·         A yellow discoloration of the skin
·         The dilation of small blood vessels under the skin that appear like small spider veins or broken capillaries

We hope this information helps as you venture outdoors.  Have a happy, safe and healthy Summer!