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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How to Share Your Skin Cancer Story to Help Others

It’s no secret that personal experience carries more weight than any statistical fact ever will. You could be told repeatedly that you should wear sunscreen, have regular skin checkups and upgrade your clothing to UV protected fabrics, but it doesn’t hold the same true meaning as having someone explain their own painful journey. Over the past 30 years, more individuals have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined and there are many ways your story can educate change.

  • Speak openly with family and friends

For many, the journey to open-up can be difficult, but this is the opportunity to help prevent your loved ones from being diagnosed. Emotionally, a cancer diagnosis affects everyone, so words of advice and tips hold value to the people closest to you. Along with the educational aspect, storytelling benefits therapeutically. No experience is the same, but for the most timid of survivors, putting your story into words helps you as much as the ones you love.

  • Share your story online

Remember the desperate searching for answers after your diagnosis? Organizations such as Melanoma Research Foundation and Skin Cancer Foundation want to give you a platform to share your personal story. Regardless of the current state of your skin cancer, your shared experience can too enlighten and support a diagnosed patient with similar circumstances.

  • Get out of your comfort zone

Some people were born courageous; others may have courage thrust upon them. This past May, several brave individuals shared their skin cancer battles in our Let’s Get Gross Campaign—like Judy, a Skin Cancer Warrior, pictured in this blog. There’s no denying images and scars can be difficult to look at, but they are visual cues and awareness-builders of UV over-exposure. Instead of hiding the blemishes, positively take advantage of your social media presence and bravely show the true dark side of skin cancer.

Regardless of your path, remember that you’re in the unique role of educator. With your personal story, you may be able to help prevent skin cancer for people across the globe.

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6 Ways to Embrace the Joy of Intentional Giving

Whether it’s for anniversaries, birthdays or holidays, the gift-giving ritual is deeply a part of cultures across the globe. Celebrating significant moments merit recognition, and it often arrives wrapped with a bow. For every moment where a gift is given and loved, there is an equal case where the gift didn’t connect with its intended recipient.

According to the American Research Group, we will each spend over $925 for gift-giving this holiday season. What if we could stop, take the time to reflect on the person to whom we are gifting, then truly consider what would bring them joy. Rather than rushing to a department store or feverishly searching online, what if we contemplated what would really enrich their life?

Many shoppers will get caught up in the thought that family members only will feel loved by how many gifts they receive. However, studies prove it’s not the amount, but the intentionality of a gift that brings us closer to the giver. They want the gift of time, experiences or treasured moments.

So, how can you approach intentional gift-giving? Here is one idea expressed six different ways.

TIME. What would a gift of time look like for the people on your list? Is it time so they can have a dinner date with their partner, and you watch their children or new puppy for one Saturday a month? Is it rides to get a medical procedure when they fear to go alone? Is it an afternoon helping weed their garden, even when you hate digging in the dirt? Perhaps, it’s spending a whole evening working on a jigsaw puzzle with them? Time is priceless

SMALL. What if all the gifts you gave needed to fit into a stocking? Putting perimeters around your gift-giving can bring out real creativity. Consider things that would really mean something to the receiver. For the cook, give a secret family recipe for beef stroganoff, a gift card for the ingredients and a new wooden spoon. For the traveler, a bank statement that shows you opened a travel savings account for them with a few dollars deposited to start their dream, a world map and a subscription to a great travel magazine.

HOUSE. What if every gift had a theme to a room in the house that the recipient loves? For example, the crafter, you select only gifts that enhance their craft room – an organizer or a work surface that creates more space for them. For the chef, consider a beautiful new ceramic sauté pan or a unique piece that’s new to kitchen wares. These not only improve their room, but they enrich the experiences they already love.

EXPERIENCE. What if the gift was an experience? It could be big, small, simple or complex, depending on what you really know the receiver would love. For example, a wine tasting for the person who has started to enjoy wines; tickets to a local film festival for the movie buff or a one-on-one museum guided tour by an art lover. Experiences create unforgettable memories, rich meaning and connection for people.

STORIES. What if your gift was a story, played back to the person it’s about? For example, you write or draw a story for your grandmother about the first time you made cookies together. Maybe you record a story you’ve written for your daughter about when she started driving and funny moments in the car. Story-telling can be a powerful gift when carefully planned.

MUSIC. The universal language of nearly all cultures. With all the music platforms available, creating playlists is easier than ever. A thoughtful and meaningful gesture could be a personalized playlist for everyone on your list based on genres they love. After finishing, make the playlists public for everyone to enjoy.

Families spend time over the holidays on vacation, boating, golfing, traveling and relaxing outside. At Coolibar, our mission is to keep the world safe from sun damage. We look at ways to give intentionally so our families can enjoy an enriched outdoor experience, while protected from damaging UV rays. If they are a daily dog walker? We’ve given a top-quality sunscreen and a fun new leash and harness. We’ve given the devoted boater and angler a fishing shirt or featherweight bucket hat to block the sun for hours. This holiday, we wish you the best as you consider the joy of intentional gift-giving.

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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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TLC for Skin in the Fall & Winter

Even though the sun may not feel as warm in the fall, UV rays do not end at Labor Day. Sun protection and nurturing skin is no longer a regimen solely for summertime. In fact, doctors warn that cooler months are more dangerous because the sunshine of summer, that serves as a reminder to reach for sunscreen, is gone. So, here’s your nudge to take care of skin as fall gets into full swing. No matter how cool the temperature feels, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can still cause damage to the DNA in our skin within just a few minutes. While UVB rays (burning rays) lessen as the earth rotates away from the sun, UVA rays (aging rays) remain strong with the same intensity year-round. UVA rays powerfully beam through office windows, car window, clouds, and fog. And UV damage to our DNA is cumulative. Here are some tips for fall and winter skin care and sun protection:

  • Do not stop wearing sunscreen. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen daily on all exposed skin, neck, ears, back of hands and your face daily. In locations where snow flies, UV rays reflect off glistening surfaces like snow, and in warmer locations, UV rays bounce off grass, sand, water, and cement back at your face. Be proactive and protect your face daily with an excellent sunscreen of SPF 30 or more. For women, consider using sunscreen as a base layer before applying cosmetics. Many mineral-based sunscreens are moisturizing and protecting at the same time. Apply, rub vigorously so they are fully absorbed, then apply any cosmetics. For men, apply a mineral-based sunscreen as a daily moisturizer and keep a tube handy in the car for reapplications. Don’t stop at your face, cover your neck, chest, and tops of hands. To be effective, dermatologists suggest a “thick and sticky coat” applied every 2 hours.
  • Use an SPF lip balm. Most people are unaware that lips do not contain melanin, our skin’s natural defense against ultraviolet radiation. Lips are particularly vulnerable year-round, but in months when the air is drier, they are also susceptible to drying and cracking. If you like color, there are several brands with tinted lip balms.
  • Consider cosmetics with built-in SPF. According to Paula’s Choice Skincare, after a layer of broad-spectrum SPF 30, women can use a makeup primer of SPF 20 and a foundation with SPF 15. While the layers of protection don’t aggregate and add up to SPF 65, the layering approach has the benefit of better overall coverage of sunscreen. In general, most people do not apply sunscreen thickly enough. By layering these products one upon the other, this technique provides a “thicker” layer of protection against sun damage. For more ideas on skincare, go to: paulaschoice.com
  • Reconsider your cleanser. When humidity drops in cooler weather, you may want to compensate by switching up your cleanser to a moisturizing cleanser. Look for hydrating ingredients that don’t strip your skin of moisture. Or, if you love your skincare program and don’t want to risk skin irritation by trying a new cleanser or moisturizer, there are ways to keep your routine and just boost it for the winter. For expert advice go to: paulaschoice.com
  • Moisturize nightly. Follow nightly cleansing with a moisturizer made for nighttime. The right nighttime moisturizer will help protect against the red chafed skin in winter and help nourish your skin. If you have sensitive skin, or you’ve experienced reactions to various products, we recommend you meet with your dermatologist. They can evaluate your skin health and offer suggestions on a regimen for sensitive skin that won’t cause irritation before switching.
  • Wear UPF 50+ clothing in the car. UPF 50+ sun sleeves or sun gloves are ideal for days driving. UVA rays (aging rays) penetrate car windows and office windows. The Skin Cancer Foundation cites nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the U.S. occur on the left, or the side receiving rays while driving. UVA rays are hitting your skin on a road trip, while running errands or driving kids to soccer. In fact, they are reaching your kids too. The Skin Cancer Foundation says clothing is the first line of defense against the sun. Having UPF 50+ clothing in the car or at the office – coverage for arms, hands, necks, and chests, like a long sleeve hoodie or wrap, a neck bandana, sun sleeves and sun gloves – make sun protection effortless. The more you’re covered, the more you’re protected.
  • Keep the sun off your face with a UPF 50+ hat. UV rays impact the tops of heads as much as any other exposed part of our bodies. So, while you’re out walking the dog to keep her healthy, wear a hat with at least a 3” brim and apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen to other exposed areas.

When seasons change, people forget there’s still sun and sun damage. Get fall-winter ready and stay sun safe with tips above. It’s also an ideal time to check in with your dermatologist and get their recommendations for cool weather skin care.

 

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/sc-melanoma-fall-winter-health-1104-20151029-story.html

https://blog.skincancer.org/2016/11/11/dont-fall-still-need-sun-protection/

https://blog.skincancer.org/2017/08/11/dress-to-protect-5-things-that-affect-how-well-your-clothes-block-uv-rays/

https://www.drbaileyskincare.com/info/blog/do-you-need-sunscreen-in-winter-or-in-the-morning-and-after-4pm#.Wd4sX9OGNBw

 

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Experts Say

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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The Evolution of My Days in the Sun

We admit we’re fans of Body Electric, the hit sensation, home exercise series on PBS led by fitness expert Margaret Richard. Impressive with boundless energy, Margaret is an advocate for sun safety, is a believer in protecting your skin, and UPF 50+ clothing is a core part of her health message. With a strong boomer message, Margaret believes everyone can feel strong, and, at 70 years old, Margaret says no one is ever too old to work out or be active. Read about Margaret’s honest story of growing up in the sun-thirsty, golden beaches of Miami, her inspiring philosophy, see some of her Coolibar favorites. She’s an inspiration for us all to love the skin we’re in!

In the 1950’s and 60’s, Miami Beach catered to northern tourists whose vacation goal was to return home with the “golden trophy” of tanned skin. Visitors flocked to the sandy beaches and basted themselves with exotic oils, suntan lotions and the ultimate sure-to-bake formula: baby oil spiked with iodine. To accelerate and promise the maximum skin darkening experience, serious sun devotees added a sun reflector. I grew up surrounded by tourists who proudly wore their sunburns as a tropical paradise “souvenir,” but I knew first-hand how much pain they were in. Their lobster-red skin would soon itch, blister, peel and potentially leave them with a permanent reminder of their days in the Florida sun.

Growing up in Miami Beach, we were not made aware of sunburn prevention or the dangers of overexposure. Other than a thick layer of white zinc oxide covering an already burned red nose, I cannot ever recall protecting my skin while playing all day in the blazing sun. I enjoyed a golden tan throughout my high school and college years in Miami, unaware that sunburns may lead to wrinkles, freckles, age spots, and more serious skin diseases later in life. Looking back, I realize my dark olive skin was the result of endless days in the South Florida sun, burning and tanning my naturally fair-skinned complexion.

My gypsy meanderings led me to Los Angeles, California in 1990, where I promptly joined the ever plush and newly opened, Sports Club LA (SCLA). The SCLA experience featured luxurious amenities, including a rooftop terrace for nude sunbathers. I quickly observed every inch of skin, even sun-tanned derrieres, are not immune to freckles and other forms of skin damage caused by prolonged exposure to the UV rays. By contrast to my beach loving years, I currently reside in New England where the sun does not shine intensely every day. Unlike me, the women in my fitness classes, who have not grown up in sun-prone climates, have unblemished skin on their arms and legs, free from discoloration or freckles. Sunny beach lovers take note, the northern climate does have its perks!

Skin plays an important immunity role in protecting the body because it interfaces with the environment to work as a shield. With overexposure, the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) permanently alter one’s DNA, creating damage at skin levels where new skin cells are formed. This negative effect on the elastin and collagen fibers in the dermis leads to premature aging. Even more significantly, DNA damage isn’t always visible on the surface and may contribute to skin cancers, including deadly melanoma.

Managing the residual effects of my years of prolonged and repeated sun exposure has caused me to develop a respectful awareness of the sun’s potential threat to the skin, and I’ve actively adopted sun protective measures. I habitually use high quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent further damage and when Coolibar sun protective hats and clothing came to market, I became an immediate devotee! Wearing garments with UPF 50+ sun protection gives me the freedom to safely enjoy the glorious sun. Today, at age 70, I swim in a Coolibar Active Swim Jacket and Coolibar Swim Tights, both UPF 50+, which means those hard to reach places, often missed by sunscreen, are protected and covered. Yes, I dress differently than other swimmers and certainly more modest, but I feel proud to be the “smart” one during peak sun hours. And, ladies, one other advantage of covering your legs with sun-protective leggings is you can choose to camouflage your legs, even if they are pure perfection!  Shifting my habits to include sun safe practices has allowed me to continue to enjoy my outdoor activities without limitations; pushing myself to be the very best me in the sunshine I love.

Margaret has a daughter, Brooke, 38, a son, Todd, 46, and two grandchildren.  Margaret currently resides in Bridgewater, MA where she is preparing to launch Body Electric streaming videos (on demand). You can also find her past videos on her website

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Behind The Design Experts Say

UV Rays in the Fall Can Be as Damaging as in the Summer

Leaves turn colors, temperatures start to cool, the sun’s heat wanes, and instinctively we drop our guard and “forget” sunscreen, leave our hats at home and waltz out into the day’s rays utterly unprotected. Is it really necessary to stay vigilant with UV protection? Are we truly risking the sun’s wrath if we sit beachside with our book or enjoy our morning cup of coffee on the terrace? Or is this UV stuff all hype?

The answer is simple and surprising. Yes, it’s necessary to stay vigilant even though it feels cooler outside. Science is very clear that the harshest of rays, UVB (“B” helps you remember for Burning) change in intensity based on the season and the position of the sun. But, UVA rays (emphasis on “A” for “Aging”) remain strong in full force with fearless intensity year-round, regardless of season or the sun’s position. These rays will undermine mind all your protective measures unless you stay on it. In short, UVA rays are incredibly powerful rays that never go away, constantly and cumulatively wreaking havoc with skin health, contributing to skin cancer, vision loss and reducing our immunities. While it may seem excessive to wear UPF 50+ clothing covering arms, faces, and heads in these cool fall days, a simple neighborhood walk, a casual bike ride, a lunch al fresco or a play day at the park adds up to long-term irreversible cellular damage. So, yes, keeping your guard up and staying protected is a year-round gig.

Omnipresent and relentless in their reach, the relatively long-wavelength UVA accounts for approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface and thus our skin. Although UVA is generally far less carcinogenic than UVB radiation, it’s present more abundantly in sunlight than UVB radiation and contributes appreciably to the carcinogenicity of sunlight. UVA penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin where connective tissue and blood vessels are affected. As a result, the skin gradually loses its elasticity and starts to wrinkle. Furthermore, recent studies strongly suggest that it may enhance the development of skin cancers. The mechanisms of this UVA damage are not fully understood, but a popular hypothesis assumes that UVA increases oxidative stress in the cell.

Think of UVA as a sneaky, ill-intentioned ninja, stalking their prey (your skin) and never letting up. They penetrate your car windows, but you don’t see them; they’re invisible. They damage skin, but don’t feel them because they don’t burn. But, within a number of years, you start to see the effects of UVA’s work. Freckles pop up on your chest, wrinkles and brown spots appear, jowls and neck skin droops, collagen and elasticity diminishes. Even more serious concerns occur, like vision issues, eye cataracts, and macular degeneration. Or, most serious of all, cancer happens. While UVA isn’t the primary source of cancer, it is a known contributor. And, the simple and unprotected daily commutes and errands in the car, shuttles of kids to soccer or long walks on a warm fall day accumulate and become irreversible UVA damage.

For nearly 20 years, our focus on protection with UPF 50+ clothing was laser-pointed at people who’ve encountered a real medical concern, like cancer, sun allergies, Lupus, chemo treatment, prescription medications that create sun sensitivity. So our broad-spectrum UV fabrics have been specially developed to authentically protect those in need and attack UVB because of its evil results while also pushing back on UVA rays. With stylish, intelligent clothes that block UVA/UVB, a Coolibar tee-shirt looks and feels like any tee-shirt, and with incredible intent. You’d have no idea our tee was a hard-working UV blocking shirt; it’s as soft as a cotton tee and feels wonderful. This strategy has been essential to many customers, because nearly 70% buy Coolibar because of a medical issue, and they want to avoid visibly publicizing their health situation. So our design philosophy has been to develop highly technical fabrics in elegant, comfortable clothes and swimwear that look great. Candidly, we’ve never talked much about UVA. We’ve always blocked UVA, but we’ve never really emphasized these rays, until now. Today, with a company mission that emphasizes keeping people safe from UV damage, we need to be more assertive about prevention as much as we’ve designed for protection. We want to start younger, get people paying attention to skin health. This commitment is our version of “an apple a day.” What’s our answer to powerful UVA rays this fall? How can you start your prevention regime?

We’ve developed a proprietary year-round fabric derived from the Merino sheep in New Zealand. It’s a fantastic blend, machine washable and super comfortable, and we’re not just saying that because we developed it. The Coolibar Merino Wool is an ultra lightweight, comfy, super breathable UPF 50+ fabric that insulates on chillier days and cools on warmer days, and, equally important, it tells UVA rays to bounce off (putting it politely). It’s light enough for men who fear sweater weather; it travels; it’s a light weight fabric that’s a heavyweight UV fighter. Tested and endorsed by dermatologists and holds The Skin Cancer Foundation seal of recommendation, our Coolibar Merino Wool blocks 98% of UVA and UVB rays and does it in a collection of fall wraps, pullovers, sporty polos, long cardigan-style sweaters, scarves, designed to cover arms, necks, hands and look perfect for the season. Being based in Minnesota, we revel in all outdoor seasons. Our entire company actively participates in outdoors year-round activities. We wear test our products for technical performance, styling, wear-ability, fit, comfort and durability. If we were pushy and not Minnesota nice, we’d highly suggest you wear a quality, high-end sunscreen, always protect your eyes with the best sunglasses you can buy (please avoid the glasses from the dime store; their lens effectiveness degrades) and wear UPF 50+ clothing that makes hiding from UV rays look and feel good. Look for the Merino Collection September 18, 2017 on coolibar.com and Amazon.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.who.int/uv/faq/whatisuv/en/index2.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10907526

 

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