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Experts Say

Experts Say

Sneaky Ways Ultraviolet Rays Reach Us

Dr. Kathryn Dempsey is a board-certified dermatologist who practices in Mobile, Alabama and spends her weekends at Orange Beach. She enjoys teaching about the importance of daily sun protection. Here she has provided some tips on the sneaky ways ultraviolet rays reach us to ensure you stay educated and protected!

Each visit, I ask each of my patients, “How are you doing with your sun protection?” and nine out of ten times I get the same answer: “I don’t go in the sun.” I always take this opportunity for education on the ways ultraviolet rays reach us outside of just tanning on the beach. Most people don’t realize that the majority of our sun exposure happens on a day to day basis, often when we least expect it.

Here are five ways UV radiation reaches us, even when most people think they are safe.

  1. In the Car. Every time you drive you are exposing yourself to UVA radiation. While the law requires most front windshields to block the majority of UVA and UVB, side and rear windows do not have this same requirement and UVA comes straight through. So during that short (or long) commute to work, you are getting direct UVA exposure, mainly to your left side. UVA contributes to both premature aging and skin cancer. We know that more skin cancers occur on the left than the right and this is because of driving.
  2. At Work. Many people are lucky enough to have a workspace with windows and if you are working within several feet of one, UVA is reaching you. Remember, UVA penetrates through glass and windows.
  3. In Shade. We get it when we think we are protected by shade. It reflects off of sand, water, pavement, grass and snow. Studies have shown that sunscreen and protective clothing in addition to seeking shade is significantly more beneficial than seeking shade alone.
  4. At a Nail Salon. That’s right! We get it when we have our nails done. Did you know that the lights they use to speed polish drying emit UVA? And UVA Is also what is used to set gel manicures. Protect your hands!
  5. During Rainy Days. This may be the sneakiest way it reaches us and I always see a surge of sunburns after overcast summer days. While clouds may block sunlight, they do not block ultraviolet radiation and some of them even magnify it. Scary!

Did you know that one year of 2 minutes of casual sun daily adds up to 2 weeks of a beach vacation’s worth? And now that you know the sneaky ways that UV rays are reaching you, think about how much you really get – far more than 2 minutes a day. Therefore, it is so important to protect yourself on a day to day basis and this starts with sun protective clothing. I always recommend clothing with UPF 50+, a wide-brimmed hat and a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30. If we all did this on a daily basis, I assure you there would be a lot less skin cancer in this world!

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Experts Say

Sunburned? Here’s Your Guide to Staying Protected Next Time

Dr. Jennifer T. Trent is a world-recognized dermatologist, who has published over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 6 chapters in various dermatologic textbooks on surgery and wound care. She is currently Medical Director of American Dermatology Associates Inc and voluntary Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Miami.

With summer here. It’s time to stock up on all your sun protection essentials. Follow these tips and you will be able to enjoy the outdoors without getting a sunburn, which can ruin your summer and your skin. Sunburns are a reddening and blistering of the skin from overexposure to the deadly ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun. Sunburns and cumulative sun exposure lead to the development of skin cancers. Every year, over 5 million Americans will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) and over 200,00 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma (MM). One dies every hour in the United States from MM. These stats are scary but also very preventable!

If you follow these ABCD’s of sun protection, so you can stay safe and still enjoy the outdoors!

A = Avoid the sun, especially between the hours of 10am-4pm. The sun’s harmful radiation is at its peak during those times. Seek shade or the indoors to stay safe.

B = Block the sun’s radiation by using sunscreen. Here are certain tips which will help you with sunscreens.

  1. Not every sunscreen is created equal. Some sunscreens say they have SPF 50 coverage, but they actually may not! I always consult with the Consumer Report’s guide to the best sunscreens. It is a great annual report on sunscreens they have tested and if they live up to their marketing.
  2. I recommend one with SPF 50+ broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. If you are using one with chemical blockers you need to apply it 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. If you are using physical blockers, you can apply it immediately prior to sun exposure.
  3. Also, make sure you apply enough of the sunscreen. It takes 1 ounce to cover the entire body and a nickel size amount to cover just the face.
  4. Always check expiration dates on your sunscreen. If it doesn’t have one, I would discard it after 6 months.
  5. You must reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, you might need to reapply every 40 minutes. The directions on the back of the bottle of sunscreen should tell you how often you need to reapply. NO sunscreen lasts all day!

C = Cover up. Sunscreen is very important, but cannot by itself protect as well as the combination of sunscreen with protective clothing.

  1. It is important to wear a wide brim hat with UPF 50+ and at least a 4-inch brim. I adore Coolibar’s Shapeable Poolside Hat which has a 7-inch brim! I never go the pool, beach or boat without it! It helps protect my face, scalp and neck.
  2. Another essential is a Neck Gaiter, which I can pull up over my cheeks and nose for the extra protection I need from the reflected sun while boating.
  3. My Costa sunglasses are a must for outdoor activities of any kind. They serve to not only protect my eyes but also the skin around my eyes.
  4. When I am outside, I always wear long sleeves and long pants. If I am at the pool or beach, I always wear my Cabana Hoodie with beach pants. They are lightweight and very protective. When I go swimming or boating, I use my Coolibar swim tights and long sleeve rash guard. They fit snuggly so it doesn’t interfere with my ability to swim. If I am working outside in the yard or attending a polo match, I love my leggings with a long sleeve tunic. They are lightweight, stylish and protective.
  5. I never leave home without my Coolibar gloves. They are great for boating and for manicures that use UV to cure the gel polish. Hands are a dead giveaway for your age. So, don’t forget to protect them.

D = Dermatologist. Make sure you see your dermatologist at least every year to check your skin for cancer. Early detection and treatment is the key to surviving skin cancer. Prevention is the best, but sometimes we forget to be as conscientious about sun protection as we need to be. We are only human. If you do get a sunburn, just remember to reassess your sun protection habits so it does not happen again. Stay safe out there this summer!

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Experts Say Live Wisely

10 Ways to Prevent Against Sun Damage

Between soccer games, outdoor concerts, travel and everyday moments, we are experiencing life outside more than ever. So, how can we develop a healthy relationship with the sun and stay safe? Experts recommend you start with these top 10 steps for protecting your family and preventing sun damage:

  1. ALWAYS WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES WHEN OUTDOORS

The average t-shirt provides a UPF of 5–7 and that number drops down to UPF 3 when wet. Coolibar sun protective clothing is UPF 50+, wet or dry.

  1. DON’T FORGET TO PROTECT YOUR HAIR

The sun’s UV rays erode the outer layer of your hair. This breaks down melanin and makes hair dry, coarse, wiry, brittle and breakable. Wear a UPF 50+ hat, always.

  1. WEAR A WIDE-BRIMMED HAT WHENEVER POSSIBLE

Start at the top and protect your scalp. For every inch of brim you wear, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%. So a 6″ brim means a 60% risk reduction.

  1. PROTECT YOURSELF ON OVERCAST DAYS

The sun’s UVA rays are omnipresent at the same strength year-round. Up to 80% of the sun’s damaging UV radiation penetrates clouds and fog.

  1. WEAR SPF 30 SUNSCREEN OR GLOVES ON HANDS

The skin on the back of the hand is thinner and often forgotten. Prevent skin damage and aging on this sun-prone area.

  1. STORE A LONG SLEEVE COVER-UP IN THE CAR

Sun-related aging, spots and wrinkling occur right in the seat of your car. UV rays penetrate windows, so wear a UPF 50+ hoodie/pullover with long sleeves for daily driving and road trips.

  1. MAKE UPF 50+ YOUR BEST ANTI-AGING WEAPON

About 90% of visible skin changes—aging, wrinkles, brown spots and leathery skin—are caused by the sun’s UV rays and can be minimized with Coolibar clothing.

  1. BLOCK UVA/UVB RAYS WITH GUARANTEED PROTECTION

Millions of sun-blocking minerals are infused at the fiber or fabric level and are guaranteed UPF 50+ to never wash or wear out for the life of Coolibar garments.

  1. WEAR UV-BLOCKING SUNGLASSES

Eyesight is vulnerable to harm from UV rays. Prevent corneal sunburns, melanomas and aging vision with sunglass lenses large enough to cover the skin around your eyes.

  1. TRUST COOLIBAR FOR QUALITY UPF 50+ PROTECTION

Clothing is your first line of defense and single most effective form of protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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Sun Tips (Attachment)

 

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Experts Say

Do You Still Need Sunscreen if Your Makeup Contains SPF?

The simple answer is yes. Experts agree cosmetics with SPF are not enough to block Mother Nature’s damaging rays.

“You need seven times the normal amount of foundation and 14 times the normal amount of powder to get the sun protection factor on the label.”

Leslie Baumann, MD

While cosmetic companies have made strides to include SPF in “anti-aging” or “UV protective” formulas, the reality is most aren’t formulated with enough sunscreen properties to provide adequate coverage. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, that level of coverage only comes from a base layer of SPF 30+ sunscreen first.

How to apply sunscreen to your morning makeup routine:

  1. For best results, apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ directly to skin after your morning cleansing routine. Wait a few minutes for skin cells to respond to the sunscreen.
  2. Next, apply serum, moisturizer, primer or your foundation.
  3. If you use a mineral-based sunscreen, this may be applied after your serum and your moisturizer.
  4. Apply sunscreen to the remainder of your exposed skin, neck, upper chest, arms and hands. These areas are often left exposed to UV rays daily.

 

Several new sunscreen formulas soothe, protect and offer properties that nourish and hydrate skin. Brands like MD Solar Sciences Daily Anti-Aging Moisturizer, Paula’s Choice Resist Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 and CoTZ Face Natural Tint SPF 40 provide a great base for your morning makeup and skin protection routine.

For sensitive skin, mineral-based sunscreens with the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide soothe and are non-irritating. In fact, zinc oxide has healing properties for acne and rashes. Don’t worry about the ghostly white-film appearance that zinc oxide used to create, today’s formulas have solved this old problem, and colorless as well as lightly skin-tinted options are readily available.

As we become increasingly aware of the damage caused by omnipresent and invisible UVA rays (think “A” for aging) – premature aging, sagging skin, wrinkling and brown spots – proactive prevention is the mantra prescribed by medical experts. And because UVA rays are also a known contributor to skin cancer, medical professionals and The Skin Cancer Foundation recommend these two primary methods for protection: UPF 50+ clothing and SPF 30+ sunscreen.

 

Sources: The Skin Cancer Foundation, Web MD, Dr. Axe

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Experts Say Parenting

A Pediatric Dermatologist’s “How To” Protect Young Skin

Remembering to schedule your own full body skin exam is one thing, but what about annual skin check exams for the children in your life? We caught up with Ingrid Polcari, a Pediatric Dermatologist and Assistant Professor at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota, to find out best practices for children.

At what age should a child have their first skin check and what should a parent or caregiver look for?

Parents should get to know their child’s skin and examine it regularly. Changes in marks on the skin are often the first sign of a problem or concern. It can be normal to be born with moles, or brown birthmarks. Moles can also be acquired over time.

Moles might grow slowly with the growth of your child, but changes like a rapid increase in size, a new shape or changing colors should be brought to the attention of a skin professional for an exam. A board-certified dermatologist, and if possible, one with expertise in Pediatric Dermatology, can help decide which marks are healthy and which need removal.

Are there skin areas where parents should be checking more frequently?

I always tell my patients that I need to check all the skin that they brought with them that day! Then I explain that moles and other skin growths can happen anywhere there is skin, which is why everything needs to be checked. Parents might find that bath time is an easy time to check hidden areas like the skin in the groin, underarms and scalp.

What happens if the doctor notices something suspicious on your child?

First, it’s important to know that skin cancers are extremely rare in children. But, we take changing skin growths seriously.  If we have a concern about the safety of a growth or aren’t able to give a medical diagnosis just by looking, we may opt to either monitor closely (with measurements and photographs for example), or recommend something called a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy is a procedure where the skin is numbed with medication and a small sample of the skin is taken so it can be looked at under a microscope by a pathologist with special training in skin conditions.

Is there a pediatric demographic that may be more prone to skin cancer?

Because skin cancers develop slowly, often after years of cumulative suntans and sunburns, it’s much more common to develop skin cancer in adulthood. Children with red-hair have the highest risk of sun damage when compared with children who do not have red hair. This is because the way they make pigment in the skin is different than in children who have darker hair, so they have less “natural defense” against the sun. This also explains why children with red-hair aren’t able to tan, and instead burn or freckle. These kids need extra special attention when it comes to sun protection!

Do you have an opinion on sunscreen application for babies under 6 months or age?

I follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatology and American Academy of Pediatrics, which says that avoiding the sun by seeking shade or using protective clothing or blankets is the best choice for infants less than 6 months. But if this is not possible and skin is exposed to the sun, apply a small amount of “physical blocker” type sunscreen–these are sunscreens with active ingredients of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. And remember that infants overheat easily, so it’s best to minimize exposure to heat and sun for your little ones!

Suggestive planning for next family vacation?

Sun protective clothing tends to be more reliable, less messy and less hassle than sunscreen. Outdoor swimming, especially mid-day when the sun is at its highest intensity, is a very high-risk activity when it comes to sunburn. Sunscreen will wash off quickly while you’re in the water, which means it needs to be reapplied often. UPF 50+ swimwear does a much better job in that situation.

Must haves in your family vacation beach bag?

Since I have 3 kids, we fill a whole wagon! A sun umbrellahats, swim shirts, sunscreen, snacks, and some cozy beach cover-ups are vacation musts.

If your child does get a sunburn what should you do? 

First, take note and consider what you can do next time to make sure it doesn’t happen again! Sunburns aren’t just painful, they are dangerous and cumulative sunburns over time will increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.

Keep the skin hydrated with a bland white cream, consider taking a cool bath and consider giving a proper dosage of ibuprofen or similar pain reliever as directed in the product guide. Have your child avoid the sun until the burn has fully healed.

Dr. Ingrid Polcari is a board-certified pediatric dermatologist and mother of three active little girls. In her free time, she and her family love to escape the city and enjoy the outdoors and sounds of the Loons in Northern Minnesota.

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Experts Say

Are You Still at Risk of Skin Cancer During the Winter?

With the warmer weather behind us, it must be time to put away the SPF and your favorite UPF 50+ clothing, right? Not so fast. Your skin needs protection during the entire year (yes, even during the very cold winter months) in order to prevent damage to your skin from UVA and UVB rays that can lead to skin cancer.

You might think that skin cancer will never happen to you because it only happens to people who use tanning beds or get sunburns frequently and badly. Skin cancer happens more often than you would think. All sun exposure poses a risk to your skin even during the winter months. In fact, about 86 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. In addition, the sun’s UV rays are also responsible for 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging including wrinkles, leathery skin and brown spots.

People can forget that snow plays a part in how effective UVA and UVB rays are when they hit your skin. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It’s a lot! As a result, the same rays can reach the skin twice. Additionally, up to 80 percent of UV rays burn right through the clouds. Be aware that the sun can still be strong on those cloudy days when the sun reflects off the snow.

Skiers and snowboarders are at an even greater risk, as these sports take place at a higher altitude, where the thinner atmosphere absorbs less UV radiation. Sun exposure increases four to five percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level. Both snow and strong wind can wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness, so you have to take extra precautions.

Treat your skin like you would if you were going to the beach on a bright sunny day. Wear your UPF 50+ clothing, wear sunscreen, re-apply often and protect your eyes.

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Experts Say

Beware Cancer Causing UV Rays Can Reach You in Your Car

Dr. Jennifer Trent, MD, FAAD of American Dermatology Associates, Inc, has provided information on an often-forgotten way for getting sun exposure. This helpful advice will guide you towards behaviors and suggestions to help you be safe in the sun.

I think by now, everyone knows they must wear sunscreen when participating in activities outdoors in direct sunlight, to protect against premature aging from the sun, as well as skin cancer. However, most are still unaware that they can get sun damage and ultimately skin cancer from just driving in the car. Car window glass, not to mention airplane window glass, does not block out the sun’s harmful cancer-causing UVA rays. It is important to use proper sun protection even when you are driving to work or sitting in the car waiting to pick your kids up at the end of the school day. That is why most cancers occur on the left side of the face and body, the driver’s side. Sunburns do cause skin cancers, but cumulative sun damage does as well. If you are exposed to 10 minutes of UV a day, by the end of the week your body has been exposed to 70 minutes of sun. By the end of the month, that exposure time jumps to 300 minutes or 5 hours!

Sunscreen is very important to use daily. But what a lot of people don’t realize is sunscreen only lasts about an hour or two. It will last for even less time if you are sweating or swimming, then it will last even less time. It is critical to reapply every 1-2 hours, even when you are in the car, or immediately after swimming or sweating or wiping your face. Some sunscreens require application 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. It is important to read the directions on the back of the sunscreen bottle or tube. Also, using sunscreen just on your face isn’t enough. You must apply it to all exposed areas of the body, including ears, lips, neck, chest, arms, hands, and legs, even if you are only in the car. To get the benefits of SPF listed on the bottle or tube of sunscreen, you must apply enough. A nickel size amount will cover your face, and 1 oz will cover your body.

If you are like me, I do not like putting sunscreen all over my body. It gets all over the car and your clothes. I feel sticky and slimy before I even get to work. I prefer wearing sun protective clothing in the car and reserving sunscreen for my face only. Choose clothing that’s stylish, lightweight, breathable and very comfortable. I always feel cooler when I am covered up rather than exposed to the intense UV rays of the sun. I can truly feel my skin burning when I am not covered up.

I choose Coolibar for my sun protection because it works well for me. Coolibar subjects their clothing to the very rigorous testing standards of the Australian sun protection clothing manufacturers. Sun protection clothing is given the designation UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which is similar to SPF of sunscreen. UPF is the rating system for clothing, which tells you how much UV radiation can penetrate the fabric. For example, the UPF 50 Coolibar clothing only allows 1/50th of sun’s UV radiation to reach the wearer’s skin. In other words, it blocks out 98% of the sun’s harmful cancer-causing UV rays.

I always leave one of my Coolibar jackets with thumbholes in the car. Because it is so lightweight, I put it on over my regular clothes to protect myself while I am in the car. It protects my arms, hands, neck, and chest. If I am feeling too hot while I am in the car, I may put it on backward, just to protect the front of my body. If I am already wearing a V-neck sunscreen shirt, I may just wrap my sun shawl around my chest and neck. If I am wearing my high neck sunscreen shirt, I may just use my neck gaiter. If my shirt doesn’t have thumbholes I will put on my UV gloves. By the way, these gloves are great to use when getting a UV cured gel manicure. If I am wearing shorts or a skirt, I throw my sun shawl or jacket over my legs. I always keep extra sunscreen and chapstick with sunscreen in my car and purse, just in case I am out longer than expected and need to reapply.  Also, it is important to protect your eyes with UVA/UVB protection sunglasses. I keep a pair in my purse and one in the car. A wide brim UPF hat is a staple in my car as well so that when I must get out and walk, I am prepared.

Windows may make you feel like you a being protected from the sun they often do not block UVA rays. Remember to be prepared and take your sun protective steps even when you are going on a car ride or know you will be sitting by a window in direct sunlight and avoid those unneeded and unintended hours of sun.

Dr. Trent is a world-recognized dermatologist, who has published over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 6 chapters in various dermatologic textbooks on surgery and wound care. She is currently Medical Director of American Dermatology Associates Inc and voluntary Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Miami.

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Experts Say

What to Expect From Your Trip to a Dermatologist

A skin check is an important part of your melanoma prevention checklist. If you’ve never had a skin check before this will help you frame your expectations for the visit. The earlier you find a skin cancer, the easier it is to treat successfully. Both skin self-examinations and professional skin exams are useful for early detection of skin cancers, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Dermatologists have special training that includes the diagnosis and management of skin cancers. When you see a dermatologist for a complete skin checkup, expect a 10-15-minute visit, including a review of your medical history and a head-to-toe skin examination.

For a full body, head-to-toe exam, you will be asked to remove your clothes and sometimes undergarments, in exchange for a gown.  On average, your full body skin exam will take approximately 10 minutes, sometimes longer if your skin tends to have more moles. In most cases the doctor will use a hand-held dermatoscope, which looks like a flashlight, to magnify and illuminate the layers of your skin.  This will allow them to get a closer look at your skin.

The doctor may start with your scalp, carefully moving your hair around to gain a closer look. Believe it or not, “hidden melanomas” are often found in unexpected areas like the scalp, behind the ears, soles of the feet, under nails, palms of the hands and the groin area.  For this reason, you should expect the dermatologist to inspect every inch of your body, which will include beneath your underwear if you were permitted to leave any on under your gown.  A medical assistant may join the dermatologist during your exam to help ensure everything is properly documented in your medical record.  Photographs may be taken and securely stored in your medical chart to use as a comparative at future visits. This is a good time to ask about any spots you are worried about; your dermatologist can educate you about what to look for, such as any changes in the size, color, borders, or shape of a mole.

Your dermatologist may identify an area that requires treatment and will generally take care any minor procedure right after completing your skin exam.  The two most common treatments are:

Cryotherapy– A quick spray of liquid nitrogen which is used to freeze and destroy skin growths or patches that do not look like the skin around them. Ask your doctor for their post-treatment recommendations and follow up protocol.

Skin biopsy-  A sample of skin will be removed and sent to a laboratory for further examination under a microscope, to diagnose or rule out any diseases of the skin.  There are a few ways to perform a biopsy and some may require stitches. Ask your doctor why a biopsy is being done and which procedure they will be using.  Be sure to understand any post-procedure recommendations and follow up expectations.  You should also inquire when and how your biopsy results will be provided to you. Results are typically available within 7-10 days.

Before your doctor leaves the room, ask them what your follow up schedule is based on their discoveries during your exam.  Your doctor may talk to you about your skin cancer risk factors which are derived from your lifestyle, personal history and the results of your exam.  Understand your follow up recommendations and instructions before your dermatologist leaves the room.  Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend more frequent exams.  At a minimum, you should schedule your next annual skin check prior to leaving the doctor’s office and ask them to mail you a reminder card.  Make your annual skin check a priority because early detection is a key factor when it comes to skin.

Dr. Cynthia Bailey of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, has provided information on what to expect during your skin check. This helpful advice will guide you through your appointment and make you feel empowered when you get to your next skin check visit. 

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Experts Say

A Plastic Surgeon’s Wish to Retire

For more than 30 years, I’ve been a plastic surgeon and not your average plastic surgeon fixated on cosmetic surgery, but a surgeon focused on fighting skin cancer. Today, skin cancer is by far the most common cancer. Every day I spend long hours examining people, head to toe, looking for malignant or pre-malignant skin lesions. And every week spend more time removing suspicious spots and moles and repairing areas where wide excisions were made when removing a malignant melanoma. My aim is to eventually put myself out of business, not by quitting, but by educating my patients, their relatives, and friends on how to avoid UV sun damage. My mission is to educate everyone on how to live a preventative lifestyle, with the goal to ultimately eradicate skin cancer or significantly reduce the number of incidents.

On any given day, during a visit, I try to encourage and coach patients to change their lifestyles, to minimize their sun exposure and to protect themselves when they are outdoors. I tell my patients there are only two ways to protect oneself from harmful UV rays: use the proper sunblock and wear protective clothing.

Sunblock and Sunscreen are NOT the same thing

While sunscreen has become the generic term for the liquid sun protection we put on our skin, there’s a difference between sunblock and sunscreen. Sunblocks, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, can leave a pasty whitish film on the skin, but these sunblocks are highly effective protecting against both UVA and UVB rays, the types of UV radiation that causes sunburn and skin cancer. These mineral sunblocks are called physical blockers because they stop and block out UV rays. Mineral sunblocks have improved their textures and appearances, but they are not completely invisible. They are your safest and best coat of armor against UVA & UVB rays.

Sunscreens tend to be invisible on the skin and often contain chemicals like benzophenones to protect against UVA and cinnamates and salicylates to protect against UVB. A chemical sunscreen works differently than a physical sunblock. One major drawback of these sunscreen ingredients is how they quickly break down and the need to be reapplied frequently.

When selecting SPF sun protection, it’s essential to not just look at the SPF number (higher doesn’t always mean better), rather look for one that blocks the entire UV spectrum. Most skin cancers that result from prolonged and repeated UVB exposure are basal cell carcinomas, the most common type of skin cancer. Exposure to UVA light can result in the more dangerous and potentially deadly skin cancers: melanomas and squamous cells. Your best defense is a broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and I recommend a sunblock. Don’t just quickly grab an SPF with a high number; this is just a measure of how long it takes you to burn (UVB rays). It may be a high number, but it may not have UVA-blocking ingredients. This means you may think you’re protected and spend hours in the sun without a burn, yet meanwhile, deadly UVA rays are deeply penetrating your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least SPF 15; however, people with fair skin are at higher risk for skin cancer. I recommend SPF 30. What’s more, I tell all patients to use a sunblock that includes transparent zinc oxide in the ingredients list. Clear zinc oxide will appear white at first, but with a vigorous application, it will become invisible on the skin. I’m not an advocate of sunblock sprays for the simple reason the act of rubbing, vigorous rubbing of sunblock promotes absorption into the skin. Proper absorption provides sun adequate protection when applied frequently and correctly. Wear UPF 50+ clothing to cover most areas of your skin, then use sunblock on any exposed skin.

 

What is this UPF 50+ clothing all about?

The simple truth is people apply sunscreen or sunblock, and as people, we are human and we err. We’re often in a rush to get outside. We don’t apply it properly or with enough coverage. We miss places. And we don’t reapply often. Sunscreens and sunblocks are only effective as the proper application. So, I recommend the most effortless sunblock there is – UPF 50+ clothing. It covers the skin, it’s comfortable, it’s so wearable and it won’t lose potency after a few hours or wash off with swimming. Sun-blocking clothing is measured by a different standard. Rather than SPF for lotions that only measures UVB (burning) rays, the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) which measures a fabric’s effectiveness against both UVA and UVB rays; it measures broad-spectrum blocking. UPF 25 means the fabric will allow 1/25th   of the radiation to pass through it. Any fabric that is labeled UPF 50+ allows only 1/50th of or about 2% of UV light to pass through.

Some people falsely assume a cotton tee-shirt will protect them at the beach. While they might not see a sunburn, the average white cotton T-shirt is rated UPF 5. That means at least 20% of the sun’s UV radiation is passing through the fabric and directly to the skin. A UPF 50+ tee-shirt blocks 98% of the rays from ever reaching the skin. The right tee-shirt at the beach matters.

After talking about with patients about ultraviolet light, explaining sunblocks, I highly encourage UPF 50+ sun-blocking clothing. I tell my patients, with total honesty, that I have been incredibly impressed with Coolibar as a sun blocking company. I tell them that I personally own and wear several Coolibar pieces including shirts, bathing suits, wide brim hats, head coverings, and pants and never go biking without a Coolibar long-sleeve shirt under my cycling jersey. When I travel overseas, which is quite often, most of my clothing is Coolibar because they always provide sun protection, are incredibly comfortable, lightweight and attractive. I let my patients know that I am a paying Coolibar customer, and I do not receive payment to endorse them. I just count on their high quality as the best form of sun protection for me and my family. I tell my patients all of this because I want to help them and protect them. I want them to have beautiful, healthy skin, continue to enjoy their outdoor activities. I want their skin cancer to go away.

Many skin cancers are preventable. Education is the first step in eradicating it. With enough education, my wish is that patients will no longer need me:  at least not for skin cancer checks and removals and I can finally retire happy.

-Dr. Mark Manstein

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How to Prepare for a Full-Body Skin Exam

Dr. Cynthia Bailey of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, has provided information on what to do before, during, and after a skin check. This helpful advice will guide you through your appointment and help you get the most out of your visit.

Woo hoo! You’ve made the decision to get your skin checked. What a great way to add to your sun-safe lifestyle.  When we think of melanoma prevention, we often think of the usual: using sunscreen, covering up, not burning, avoiding tanning beds, etc. and forget an important part. Finding a suspicious mole or spot and having it checked out by a professional is considered one of the most important steps to preventing melanoma and it’s awesome that you are taking that step. Use these suggestions to frame your visit and you’ll be set to get the most out of your appointment.

 

Here is your pre-appointment homework:

  1. Choose a dermatologist. Refer to our how to pick a dermatologist post for helpful information on how to choose the best dermatologist for you.
  2. Take note of any areas on your skin or scalp that stand out to you.

Do your own self-exam and know what you are looking for by referencing the ABCDEs of skin cancer.  Know your skin because early detection is key. Do not be shy, point out notable concerns to the doctor during your appointment.

  1. Remove all nail polish from your fingernails and toenails.

Believe it or not, melanomas can develop in areas that have little or no sun exposure, including underneath nailbeds.

  1. Remove all make-up or foundation.

Your clean face allows your dermatologist to have total visibility to the skin on your face, neck, and ears which are sun prone areas.

  1. Make a list of all medications you are currently taking or have taken in the past.

Share this list with your doctor to avoid any possible interactions and to provide a quick overview of your treatments for a more thorough examination. They also want to know your medications because some make you more sensitive to the sun.

  1. Be prepared to provide your UV exposure history.

Tell your doctor if you have ever used tanning beds, worked outdoors or if you have had ever experienced a sunburn.  Did you spend a lot of time at the beach/pool when you were a child or do you still?  Have you ever been diagnosed with any type of cancer or have you received radiation therapy for any medical condition?  Make sure you are upfront and honest with your history to help the doctor make a more comprehensive assessment of you.

  1. Know your family history as it relates to skin cancer.

Have any of your family members been diagnosed with skin cancer?  How were they related to you and what type of cancer did they have?

 

 

Here is your appointment day homework:

  1. Stay focused.

While time away from work and home is hard to come by and it is tempting to ask the dermatologist about a curious rash or the latest wrinkle cream while they are right in front of you, DO NOT DILUTE YOUR VISIT. Remember, you have 10 minutes with the doctor so dedicate this visit to your skin check.

  1. State your purpose for your appointment.

Remind your dermatologist you are there for your head-to-toe skin exam. Dermatologists are very busy with some practices seeing 100 patients per provider per day.  Minimize your chit-chat and get right to the point. Be sure to state your medical history and point out suspicious moles or other marks.  An exam that follows the TSBE method should only take about 10 minutes.

  1. Take control of your visit.

If your doctor starts talking about wrinkles, rashes or other skin concerns during your exam, bring them back on track.  Thank them for their feedback and tell them you will return to see them regarding their suggestion, but that you are most interested in their full attention to a thorough skin and scalp exam during this visit.

  1. Pay attention and ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask your dermatologist to show you areas they are concerned about.  Be sure to pay close attention to your identified suspicious areas and do self-exams at home. (Go ahead and photograph suspicious areas yourself a baseline reminder.  This is a great way to inventory your moles to look for changes in color, size, and asymmetry.  The AAD has body mole map you can download and use to track your moles from year to year.)

There are 3 common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma and a whole host of other terms your dermatologist may use to describe “discoveries” on your skin.  If you do not understand something your doctor says, ask them to repeat what they have said or have them explain it to you in a different way.  Chances are you are not formally trained in medicine and this is not your area of expertise. It is perfectly normal for you to ask your doctor questions, you are worth it.

Congratulations you are ready for your skin check! Bring this with you on your visit so you remember what you need to do while you are there. We hope you find this a valuable resource for your next visit too.

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