A reminder for all, especially the cold weather states:
Vitamin D is essential for healthy living. UVB (not UVA) exposure from the sun causes the body to produce vitamin D; however, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends getting adequate Vitamin D through alternative safe methods.
Vitamin D helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It may also protect from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, and several autoimmune diseases.
According to the Mayo Clinic, two forms of vitamin D are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight. Foods may be fortified with vitamin D2 or D3.
Getting vitamin D (D3, not D2) through dietary intake – fatty fish such as salmon, fish liver, egg yolks, even vitamin D supplementation in a vitamin pill – is a lot safer than getting it through UV exposure. According to the AAD, “the IOM Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is: 400 IU (International Units) for infants/children 0-1yr, 600 IU for children, teenagers and adults 1-70yr, 800 IU for adults 71+ yr. The RDA is intake that covers needs of 97.5 percent of the healthy normal population.” Recommendations are currently being reevaluated by the medical community. 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 may well end up being the new dosage recommended for prevention of vitamin D3 deficiency for people at risk of low levels.
Low levels of natural sun may be a necessary last resort for individuals at high risk of vitamin D deficiency. According to Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey in her blog post “Are you really getting vitamin D from the sun, or just nuking your DNA” she says, “Fair-skinned people make the maximum amount of vitamin D3 possible within a few minutes of mid-day summer sun exposure. This occurs with less sun exposure than would cause skin redness. Longer sun exposure adds nothing to vitamin D stores, but it does increase DNA damage.” Dr. Bailey strongly encourages patients to get their vitamin D level measured by a doctor and take supplements and eat foods with vitamin D3. Dr. Bailey says, “Chances are, your level is just fine anyway and all that sun exposure is just nuking your DNA, making wrinkles, age spots and skin cancers.”
In conclusion, vitamin D is something most can get adequately through diet. Still use sunscreen and remain SunAWARE all year long!
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.
Dr. Ryan Goerig, a board-certified dermatologist, specializes in aesthetic dermatology at Vorteil Dermatology in Dana Point, CA, the first aesthetic dermatology center to focus on men. Men’s skin is different than women’s skin. Its structure and function is fundamentally unique and requires specialized knowledge and different treatment approaches. This is why Dr. Goerig pays special attention to men’s dermatologic needs, including aesthetic dermatology and the treatment of male pattern baldness, acne scars and rosacea. Having extensive training in aesthetic dermatology, Dr. Goerig knows the importance of using sun protection in order to aid the skin conditions men are susceptible to, including skin aging and skin cancer.
Dr. Goerig poses the following question for men: What are the best sun protective strategies for men?
Here’s his answer:
This is a great question that I hear often from my male patients. Men over the age of 40 tend to spend more time outdoors than their women counterparts, accumulating much more ultraviolet radiation exposure in the process. This is concerning given that sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer, which is now considered epidemic in the United States. Skin cancer is the #1 cancer in men over age 50, ahead of other cancers such as colon and prostate. According to the American Cancer Society, 39,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, occur in men each year in the US. In fact, one in 39 Caucasian men will develop melanoma in their lifetime. In this regard, an effective sun protection strategy is critical to preventing skin cancer and premature skin aging.
So, what should men do? First, avoid the intense, mid-day sun by doing outdoor activities (such as golfing, cycling or gardening) before 10 am or after 4 pm. Doing this will avoid the majority of the day’s UV-B (cancer causing) rays. Also, since incidental sun exposure over time can really add up, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day after shaving can go a long way toward preventing skin cancer. Since men’s skin tends to be oilier than women’s skin, water or alcohol based gels and sprays are better because they don’t tend to leave the skin feeling greasy. For outdoor activities, a sport sunscreen works best because it is designed to absorb quickly. Stick sunscreens, when applied to the forehead and around the eyes, are great for water activities because they won’t run into the eyes and sting. It is important to keep trying different brands and types to see what you like best, then being consistent with it. In addition to regular sunscreen use, protective clothing, with a UPF of at least 30, is very effective at blocking harmful ultraviolet rays. Coolibar has a variety of excellent UPF rated clothing options for men. For areas of the skin that are difficult to apply sunscreen to, like the inner ear and eyelid, a sun hat provides outstanding protection.
In general, skin cancer is caused by excessive, cumulative ultraviolet radiation exposure and, in most men, is completely preventable. Following these simple recommendations can go a long way toward keeping your skin protected and cancer free.
Written by: Ryan Goerig, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology
Finding stylish protection can prove challenging. Additionally, many sun hats on the market today do not protect your neck, cheeks, nose, and mouth areas from the sun’s UV rays. Devra Wathen (pictured left) is the founder and CEO of Escaping the Sun In Style™, an innovative hat company based out of Hawaii. ETSIS hats offer a smart and sophisticated option for those looking for ultimate sun protection, while staying in style. We decided to find out more about Devra and her company that’s changing the way people view sun protection.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a born and bred Midwest girl who moved to Colorado to “find my fortune”. I enjoyed a great active, outdoorsy lifestyle there and eventually started a successful leasing company, which is how I met my husband Chuck, a real estate developer. After we got married, Chuck landed some projects in Honolulu, Hawaii and we jumped at the chance to move here (who wouldn’t!). The glorious sun and paradise were perfect. Needless to say, I spent my days drinking in the golden sunlight, driving back and forth in my convertible to work, being super outdoorsy, enjoying the fabulous beaches. We’ve been here since then. I am semi-retired but came out of it when I began my work in Sun Protection with ETSIS.
How long has ESTIS been in business? What inspired you to start this company?
ETSIS started three years ago, but has only started to really gain its legs this year. Being a sun protection company, it was born from my own personal need for better sun protection.
About 7 years ago, I started noticing bad spots on the left side of my face and arms. I went to my derm and he told me it was basal cell carcinoma, and after removing it, he told me that I needed to be more wary of the sun if I didn’t want to end up with more aging, spots, or worst of all, melanoma! My derm told me all my days of being in the car and lying out in the sun had caught up with me and I needed to be super diligent with protecting myself—especially the left side of my face and arms, with all the time spent in the car. A long quest to find the perfect sun hat that protected my face and neck, looked good and worked whether I was driving, walking the dog or just out at the beach turned up fruitless. So I just started pinning towels and napkins into the brim of my favorite Coolibar sun hat to protect against the sun.
Um, this did not sit well with my husband, who said I looked like a bag lady trolling around the neighborhood, and would I please utilize my fashion sense and figure something else out? A girl CANNOT just let that slide! So, I got to work and ETSIS was born after some trial and error. My girl friends loved it, one of them introduced me to a representative of the world’s largest hat manufacturer and the rest is history (so to speak)!
What’s different about ESTIS hats versus other sun hats?
Where do I start?
ETSIS hats are like your traditional and fashion forward UPF sun hats, with the twist that they can be worn five different ways. Our SunEscape Protection Panels are like luxuriously soft scarves that snap into the inner crown of each ETSIS Hat, allowing you to tie the hat four ways. If you want to protect yourself, wrap the panels around your face, back around your neck and tie in front…add a pair of fabulous sunglasses and you look like a 50s screen goddess! That’s called our Signature Wrap. You can also do an off the shoulder tie to keep your hands free for when you don’t need to wear your hat but don’t want to carry it. You can tie the panels behind your head in a cute knot to keep it from flying off your head in wind, too. Lastly, for our customers with medical conditions, you can pull the panels up and over your cheeks to cover your mouth and nose in a clinical wrap to protect you from airborne pollutants. If you don’t need the panels at all, snap them out of the hat, put them in your handbag and wear the hat as a basic sun hat.
The protection panels keep you warm in winter, but also wick away heat and moisture when it’s warm, so they can be worn year-round! And they’re rated UPF50+ so you get maximum UVA/UVB protection 365 days a year.
Basically, our hat takes a regular hat and transforms it into the ultimate accessory with sun protection built in! ETSIS hats are versatile, functional and fashion-forward options for all occasions and all types of activities. What sun hat can actually say that?
We’ve heard rumors that you’ve started working with SunAWARE. Is this true and if so how are you working together?
Yes, that’s true. SunAWARE approached me and asked me to write a feature article on the growing trend of sun protection, how it developed and where it’s going. I’m not sure if I can say more yet, but you’ll be the first to know when the project launches!
On a personal level, how do you style your ETSIS hat? Where do you wear it?
I personally wear the hat in our Signature Wrap style (shown in video below) the most. I love feeling glamorous like a 50s movie star. I usually wear it with a fantastic Coolibar UPF sun shirt or jacket, cute leggings and a cute little skirt, my signature bangles, and of course, a pair of fabulous sunglasses (gotta protect the eyes, too!).
I wear my hats EVERYWHERE. From running errands, going to the beach, walking the dog, going shopping. Anytime I go outside, I put on sun protection—I wear UPF clothing 365 days a year. Since our hats can be worn 5 different ways, I’m not trapped into only being able to wear my hat to some places, but I can wear it wherever I go. Except for black tie parties or fancy dinners – I like showing off my hairstyles for those.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Since the sun’s UV rays are responsible for 80% of our skin’s aging, ETSIS hats are truly an essential component of an anti-aging beauty routine. By protecting our skin, we can help prevent premature aging as well as skin cancer. Our hats are a stylish option for women who can’t always wear sunscreens, or for those who don’t want to have to reapply ever couple of hours.
And they’re soon available worldwide through Coolibar. Look for ETSIS next week at coolibar.com.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good time to remember the many people affected by the disease. Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can be successfully treated when found early. While no one has full control over whether he or she gets breast cancer, there are simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk.
1. Know your risk
Talk to your family to learn about your family health history. Then speak with your health care provider about your personal risk of breast cancer.
2. Get screened
Have a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk. Ask your health care provider which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk.
3. Know what is normal for you
See your health care provider right away if you notice any of these breast changes:lump, hard knot or thickening; swelling, warmth, redness or darkening; change in the size or shape of the breast; dimpling or puckering of the skin; itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple; pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast; nipple discharge that starts suddenly; or new pain in one spot that doesn’t go away.
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices
Maintain a healthy weight and add exercise into your routine. Also, limit your alcohol intake.
Coolibar also wishes to remind you that as part of a healthy and aware lifestyle, to protect yourself from the sun and check your skin regularly for irregular moles using the ABCDE’s of melanoma from the American Academy of Dermatology. Prevention and early detection are key factors in reducing your risk of developing skin cancers.
Tanning booths are considered unhealthy by dermatologists, but what about sunless tanning (A.K.A. self tans, UV-free tans, fake tans)? While rocking the natural skin look is most recommended, those who cannot ditch the glow should opt for self tanners over UV tanning. First learn how it works. Then how to properly apply it.
At the local drug-store and you’ll find self tanners in the form of lotions, creams, sprays and tanning wipes. All contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a sugar molecule that darkens the top layer of skin and is the main ingredient used in self tanners. DHA does not instantly dye the skin. Rather, over the course of a few hours, skin will gradually brown. This color will fade in 5 – 10 days.
In the 1920’s DHA was first used as an active ingredient in the pharmaceutical field. Then, in 1957 a doctor discovered the tanning properties of DHA. DHA is the only approved agent for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for artificial tanning—external use only. According to the FDA tanning pills pose many risks, thus they are not FDA approved. Similarly, Melanotan, an illegal synthetic hormone injection that tans skin, can have serious side effects, possibly including death.
Melanie D. Palm, MD, MBA, recently wrote an article for the Skin Cancer Foundation where she states, “There is no clear evidence that DHA is harmful to humans if applied topically and used as directed. Concern about DHA arose recently when a study correlated use of highly concentrated amounts of DHA with production of free radicals, molecules that form naturally in the body due to oxygen use and can damage cells. However, concentrations used in sunless tanning preparations are considered non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.” Self tanners typically contain between 3 and 5 percent DHA.
If you’re going to use self-tanning spray or visit a spray tan booth, it’s recommended not to inhale or get into the mucus membranes as the long-term health effects for inhalation are not yet determined. When the FDA originally approved DHA for external use back in 1977, it was popular in tanning lotions. Now that is comes in spray form, toxicologists are concerned and urge consumers to use with caution.
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.
Only people with light colored skin can get skin cancer—right? The truth is that anyone of any ethnic background is susceptible to all types of skin cancer including melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is in fact more common in Caucasians. When caught early and treated soon after, skin cancer is almost always curable. However, it’s more likely to be fatal in people of color because it’s usually detected at later stages.
Dermatologist Dr. Charles Crutchfield III, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in ethnic skin, is also concerned that people of color oftentimes believe they’re protected from skin cancer and that if a cancerous lesion develops, it’s not as recognizable. “Skin hue can affect the way lesions look,” Crutchfield says. “Things that appear red in white skin often look completely different in skin of color.” In the past, teachers generally demonstrated skin cancer cases on fair-skinned people, making it more challenging for physicians to recognize suspicious moles on darker skin.
People with darker skin tones do have more “natural” protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Cells in the outermost layer of skin called melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin and eyes their color. This pigmentation helps protect the skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays that can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. “In African American skin, melanin provides a sun protection factor (SPF) approximately equivalent to 13.4, compared to 3.4 in white skin,” states the SCF.
“Pigmentation doesn’t give you a free pass,” says Crutchfield. “It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, anyone can get skin cancer.” Crutchfield also notes that even though pigmentation does offer some sun protection, that using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and broad-spectrum coverage is recommended for everyone. “I also recommend sun protective clothing and sun hats with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) as it’s more effective and easier to use than sunscreen alone,” says Crutchfield. Crutchfield, along with other skin cancer prevention organizations, hope that ethnic groups will soon pick-up the message and start protecting themselves from the sun.
If you could take a pill to reduce your chances of getting melanoma would you? A new study appearing in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology provides evidence that taking a Vitamin A supplement may do just that.
While it’s still too early to tell whether or not this claim is true, the results are still noteworthy. Researchers analyzed almost 70,000 people, most around age 62, for a five-year period. They found participants taking Vitamin A supplements were approximately 40 percent less likely to develop melanoma than those who did not. The study also concluded that while supplements seemed to lower melanoma risk, eating food hearty in Vitamin A did not seem to affect a person’s likelihood of getting melanoma.
Vitamin A can be toxic in high doses, so it’s important to discuss your medications and vitamin supplements with your physician prior to changing your daily routine.
Steps you can currently take to prevent skin cancers include using sun protection and getting regular skin checks.
According to recent Mayo Clinic study, the incidence of melanoma has escalated, and young women are the hardest hit. Researchers speculate that the use of indoor tanning beds is a key culprit in the rising skin cancer rate in young women.
“We anticipated we’d find rising rates, as other studies are suggesting, but we found an even higher incidence than the National Cancer Institute had reported using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result database, and in particular, a dramatic rise in women in their 20s and 30s,” says lead investigator Jerry Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist.
Researchers conducted a population-based study using records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a decades-long database of all patient care in Olmsted County, Minn. They looked for first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients 18 to 39 from 1970 to 2009. The study found the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men. The lifetime risk of melanoma is higher in males than females, but the opposite is true in young adults and adolescents, Dr. Brewer says.
“A recent study reported that people who use indoor tanning beds frequently are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and we know young women are more likely to use them than young men,” Dr. Brewer says. Despite abundant information about the dangers of tanning beds, he adds, young women continue to use them.
Dr. Jessica Sparks Lilley, a pediatrician who has dedicated her life to helping children stay healthy, learned the hard way that the risks of getting melanoma from using a tanning bed are real! “The first time I went to a tanning bed, I was fifteen years old and trying to get a little ‘color’ to look good in a beauty pageant dress,” says Dr. Sparks Lilley. “I heard nothing of the risks (which were largely unknown at the time) and never burned. I went about ten times a year after that for various reasons—prom, pageants, and even my wedding. I thought seriously about never going back was after my first pathology lecture dealing with melanoma and the strong emphasis on UV radiation as a cause of skin cancer. My last tanning visit was April 24, 2007, about a week before my wedding…and two years before the cancer diagnosis that changed my life.”
Three years later, Dr. Sparks Lilley is cancer-free and helping adolescents comprehend the risks of using tanning beds. “It’s humiliating to recount my story—I should have known better—but I hope to teach everyone who will listen three important take-home points,” she says.
Memorial Weekend traditionally marks the unofficial opening to sunburn season and the Friday before has been officially declared Don’t Fry Day. It’s a preemptive strike to put sun damage front and center in your mind. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention wants you to be sun protected; they want you to practice sun safe behavior, teach it, talk about it, and make it as American as apple pie.
You or your loved ones double your risk of getting melanoma (the potentially deadly big C skin cancer) with:
– One severe sunburn in childhood – 5 or more sunburns as an adult
From now until mid-October I’ll see sunburned skin in my office, at the grocery store, walking around town, and everywhere I go! You know from experience that it’s so easy to “forget” sun protection or to lose track of time at a graduation, wedding, BBQ, softball game, pulling weeds in the garden, etc. It’s why you need to expect it. You’re going to end up in the sun longer than you think, so you need to always be prepared in advance.
There are 5 simple steps for smart sun protection. Do them every day for yourself and your family:
Apply broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
Wear sun-protective clothing to cover your skin.
Wear a broad-brimmed had (not visor or ball cap).
Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
Always be in the shade when you can. (Who are those people sitting in the direct sun at ball games and the beach?)
You also need to know that it takes extra resolve to sun protect. Culturally, sun bathing and tanning have been associated with a sense of well-being and the good life. It’s even addictive. I know; I was an addicted tanner until the big reality check that came in my dermatology residency in San Diego: cutting off skin cancer after skin cancer on people just like me. (Click here to read my story Tanning Addiction: Dermatologist’s Personal Story.) A lot of people still haven’t gotten “the memo” and justify their “actinic indiscretions” in the name of vitamin D. Sadly, it’s job security for my kind, so don’t do it.
Is your FREE SKIN CHECK scheduled? Today, the first Monday of May, is Melanoma Monday and dermatology offices across the country are offering free skin checks as a reminder to get your annual exam. A yearly skin check promotes good health and skin cancer prevention, today and all year long.
It is currently estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. When caught early skin cancer is highly treatable, and is often preventable. Because the signs of skin cancer are visible on the surface, you just need to call your doctor when you see something unusual, growing, or changing on your skin.
You can search the website of the American Academy of Dermatology and their SPOT initiative to find a free screening near you.
Exposure to ultraviolet light is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. If you could reduce your risk of skin cancer by just seeking shade, wearing sun protective clothing and sunscreen, and avoiding tanning beds, wouldn’t you?
Ask your loved ones to commit to keeping their skin safe and getting a skin check.
Now, if we could just convince Tanning Mom that her bronzed skin is not good for her. Watch the Tanning Mom skit from Saturday Night Live.