Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 7, 2013

Sunbathing by the Sea

The number of times I have written a post in this blog about sun safety, skin cancer, or sunscreen could, at this point, fill a book.  Well maybe not a book but at least a thick pamphlet.  But since it is once again Skin Cancer Awareness Month I thought it important to revisit these topics yet again.  It is always good to be reminded about proper sun safety.  Skin cancer is an almost entirely preventable cancer so keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from the sun is of utmost importance.  Yes, proper sun protection takes some extra time and thought, but preventing skin cancer shouldn’t be an afterthought.  And I haven’t even mentioned the wrinkles and pigmentation issues that come from daily sun exposure.  So if skin cancer doesn’t concern you particularly at least protect your skin from the sun in order to keep it looking young and fresh.

The Skin Cancer Foundation provides the following sun safety tips:

Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. Sunscreen alone is not enough, however.

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
    Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam

Allure adds even more tips:

As much as we know about skin cancer, though, only about 20 percent of us wear sunscreen daily. (Which is crazy, considering in a poll we did onAllure’s Facebook page, 68 percent of our fans said they either have had skin cancer or know someone who has.) But here’s the thing: It’s never too late to start taking care of your skin. Here, a few sun-protection tricks to keep in mind as the temperatures start to rise:

• If you’re the outdoorsy type, you may want to take a summer vacation from retinols: They thin the top layer of skin and can make you vulnerable to redness and brown spots, says dermatologist Fredric Brandt.

• One bottle of sunscreen is not going to last. “One ounce is the right goal for each application, as well as for each reapplication, so a 12-ounce bottle is 12 servings—and that’s not a lot,” says Patricia Wexler, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Set an alarm on your phone to ring every two hours to remind you to reapply.

• If you’re outside for 30 minutes or more, wear a chemical sunscreen (like one with Mexoryl SX or Parsol) topped by a physical one (with Z-Cote or titanium dioxide). “Neither type is 100 percent perfect, and whatever rays get through the first layer are caught by the second one,” says Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann.

• Think twice before you use sunscreen wipes: The FDA is reviewing their effectiveness, along with powders and shampoos containing SPF. (No decisions have been made yet.)

So whatever your daily beauty routine is make sure that it includes an SPF of at 15 but SPF 30 is better.  Apply 365 days a year, rain or shine.  And be sure that everyone you love and care about is protected from the sun as well.

My Related Posts:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’ve written so much about the topic of this post that I decided to choose some of my related posts to share here.  If you type “sun” into the search line on the home page of this blog you’ll find even more related posts.

Image from askdegas.com: Sunbathing by the Sea.  And yes, I do think everyone should go to the beach fully dressed :)

 

Foods That Prevent Skin Cancer? July 26, 2012

My newest skin obsession is finding out how the foods we eat impact our skin both positively and negatively.  Recently I came across the following information about foods that may help prevent skin cancer.

According to Prevention magazine (August, 2012, page 26):

Supplements – including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from berries, green tea, red wine, and dark chocolate – may help protect against skin cancer, a recent spate of studies show.  “Regularly drinking green tea or adding antioxidants in the form of vitamin E or beta-carotene may be helpful, although topical use shows greater promise,” says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.  “Compounds found in grapes (resveratrol); berries (ellagic acid); cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and brussel sprouts; garlic; onions; and the spice turmeric also show promise for general cancer prevention.”  But the effects are modest, Dr. Weil says.  Preliminary studies also suggest that Heliocare, an oral supplement made from South American fern plants, may boost the body’s defense against sun damage slightly, but it’s very expensive.  So don’t forget the sunblock!

And drinking caffeinated coffee may help prevent certain types of skin cancer as well:

Drinking more cups of caffeinated coffee could lower a person’s risk of developing the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, according to a recent study published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Our data indicate that the more caffeinated coffee you consume, the lower your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma,” said Jiali Han, associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and Harvard School of Public Health.

Han and his colleagues conducted a prospective analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a large and long-running study to aid in the investigation of factors influencing women’s health, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, an analogous study for men.

Of the 112,897 participants included in the analyses, 22,786 developed basal cell carcinoma during the more than 20 years of follow up in the two studies. The results revealed a decrease in the risk for basal cell carcinoma as coffee consumption increased. Similar results were seen with other caffeinated products such as tea, cola and chocolate. Caffeinated coffee also reduced risk for other serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

However, consumption of decaffeinated coffee was not associated with a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma, the study found. Also, neither coffee consumption nor caffeine intake were associated with the two other forms of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Still, Han said more studies in different populations are needed before the group can make a “definite” determination on the impact of caffeine on these serious health conditions.

(Skin Inc.Study Says Caffeinated Coffee Decreases Skin Cancer Risk)

At least now I know my morning coffee is protecting my skin instead of hurting it, and I’ll continue to drink my green tea in order to help my skin.

 

Can Chemical Peels Prevent Certain Skin Cancers? June 11, 2012

Chemical peels are a great way to rejuvenate the skin and an excellent way to treat many skin conditions like acne and hyperpigmentation.  But it turns out that chemical peels can do even more than that – some peels might help prevent further development of superficial skin cancers.

According to Morag Currin in her book Oncology Esthetics *(page 134):

Superficial chemical exfoliations and peels are recommended for treatment of skin conditions that primarily affect the epidermis such as actinic keratosis and superficial skin cancers.  There is a usually a decrease in the incidence of superficial skin cancers after resurfacing procedures.

Chemical exfoliation and peels are not the only treatment for skin cancers, however, any resurfacing procedures (the deeper the better) may actually decrease the chance of developing superficial skin cancers and precancerous lesions.

Strong chemical peels may kill very early skin cancer cells since the treatment removes the top layer of sun damaged skin, which can include precancerous cells as well as sun-damaged cells, and give the skin a rough, blemished and discolored appearance.

Renee Rouleau concurs on the same subject in a recent blog post of hers:

Exfoliation by using facial scrubsacid serums and professional chemical peels are all popular treatments for shedding dead skin cells to improve the look and feel of your skin. But the latest research now shows another benefit of exfoliation: the reduction of  the number of actinic keratosis–skin lesions that can develop into squamous cell cancer. For home use, physicians recommend glycolic acid serums in formulas up to 20%.

So remember – the next time you are considering a chemical peel as a way to treat your skin remember that there are added medical benefits to getting that peel.

My Related Posts:

*  I recently completed Currin’s 3 day intensive course on oncology esthetics and highly recommend it to all my fellow estheticians who are interested in working with cancer patients.  I learned so much!

Image from myadvancedderm.com

 

Cause: Hats On For Skin Health May 28, 2012

With May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, quickly coming to an end I wanted to highlight a cause I just found out about – Hats On For Skin Health.

This organization aims to help albinos in Tanzania, a country with an extremely high rate of albinism,  protect their very sensitive skin from skin cancer.  As their website explains:

Hats On For Skin Health is a global campaign to spotlight the deadly effects that sun rays can have on the sensitive skin of albinos. Through a worldwide effort, the program aims to raise funds to purchase hats and other sun-protective items for albinos living in Tanzania, a country in East Africa with one of the highest rates of albinism in the world.

Skin cancer in Africans with albinism.

For a variety of reasons including social stigma, lack of education, and limited job opportunities, manual labor in the hot African sun is often the only work available to albinos. Prolonged sun exposure threatens the lives of tens of thousands of albinos living in East Africa, but few understand the sun’s damaging, if not deadly, effects. 1

Rates of skin cancer among albinos in the countryside are much higher than they need to be for want of simple, inexpensive protective measures and health education. 3

Preventing sun damage is key to preventing skin cancer.

A study conducted in northern Tanzania reported that although albinos previously died between 20 and 30 years of age, today they can live considerably longer because of preventive sun protection. 4

Many factors play a role in skin cancer prevention, including education about sun avoidance, sun blocks and shade provided by protective clothing such as large-brimmed hats and clothing with long sleeves. Albinos and parents of albino children must be informed about the disease and how to prevent sun damage.4

When you donate to this organization your money goes toward the following cause:

Your Hats On For Skin Health donation will go a long way to preventing skin cancer by providing a hat and other sun-protective items to albinos in East Africa and supporting regional outreach and education efforts through the Regional Dermatology Training Center in Moshi, Tanzania.

So if you are looking for a way to help others I suggest considering donating to this cause.  What I learned on the organization’s website I found both frightening and heartbreaking.  It is great to know that a hat can make such a great difference in another person’s life.   Think about donating today.

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 14, 2012

If there is one consistent subject that I write about repeatedly in this blog it is sun protection.  There is a very good reason for that – non- melanoma skin cancer has reached epidemic rates in the US.  May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month so I wanted to share some important information about the subject with my readers.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation:

Skin cancer is a lifestyle disease, affecting young women, older men and everyone in between. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime; 13 million Americans are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, and nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

But there is good news: because skin cancer is chiefly lifestyle disease, it is also highly preventable.

“About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” says Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Everyone, regardless of skin color, should make staying safe in the sun a priority and incorporate sun protection measures into their daily life.”

In my opinion the scariest phenomena occurring right now is the rapid rise in the cases of melanoma among young women who use tanning beds.  Let me be very clear – tanning beds are not safe!  I wish the FDA would ban them entirely.  If someone tells you that tanning beds aren’t harmful they are lying to you – period.

Since skin cancer is almost entirely preventable the key to protecting yourself (and your loved ones) is in your hands.  Remember to:

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen – 365 days a year.
  • Don’t skimp on sunscreen – apply plenty of sunscreen to all exposed skin and reapply every 2 to 3 hours when outdoors.
  • Seek shade and wear protective clothing when outside.
  • Don’t burn!
  • Never, ever use tanning beds!!
  • Do self exam to check your moles and to see if you have developed any suspicious lesions.
  • See a dermatologist for a professional mole check yearly.
Sources and Further Reading:

Image from skinsheen.com

 

Test Your Sun Safety Knowledge June 27, 2011

The other day I took a sun safety quiz on WebMD and was surprised to find that I didn’t get every question correct.  Just goes to show you – you can always learn something new even if you are an esthetician obsessed with sun protection.  For example now I know that any color lenses in sunglasses are good for providing sun protection; I always thought that you needed dark lenses to get the most protection.

I urge everyone to click on the link above and take the sun safety quiz.  I promise it will be interesting, you’ll learn something new, and it will be well worth your time.

AND help support The Skin Cancer Foundation by taking a 5 question quiz on Facebook:

Throughout the summer, every person who takes the short “Sun Certification” quiz on www.Facebook.com/BananaBoatBrand will receive a “Sun Certified” badge to display on their own Facebook wall, and $1 will be donated to The Skin Cancer Foundation’s sun education initiative. Take the quiz and share the link with your friends and family!

Here’s to a sun safe summer!

 

Help Support Skin Cancer Research May 26, 2011

 

As May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, comes to an end I wanted to highlight a few ways all of us can help support skin cancer research.

Consider donating to the Melanoma Research Alliance and/or The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Or if you prefer to donate in a more roundabout way – consider buying from one of these companies.  When you do a donation will be made to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

And remember to always set a good example when it comes to sun protection.  Never use a tanning bed and educate others on the risks of tanning beds (see my post Teens and Tanning Beds for more information).  Always apply sunscreen daily.  Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are outdoors.  Get a skin cancer screening

Also help out by signing a “ letter to the Surgeon General asking her to urge the FDA to enact stricter regulations and more oversight of tanning beds”.  The letter is sponsored by The Skin Cancer Foundation.

The Skin Cancer Foundation offers even more sun safe tips.

Have a great and sun safe Memorial Day Weekend!

 

In Your Face: See What Skin Cancer Looks Like May 9, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 6:11 am
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Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to devote another post to the subject of skin cancer.  I urge everyone, especially those who have never had one, to go get a skin cancer check.  You can even get one for free.  And if there isn’t a free screening in your area you can certainly do a self-examination.

Remember that being aware of what is going on with your skin involves much more than paying attention to if you need a moisturizer or not or if your skincare products are doing what they should.  Though those things are important being aware of what is going on with your skin also means being very aware of any changes that might be going with your skin and/or  appearance of new growths and spots on your skin.

I’ll explain using an example.  The other day a regular client came to see me for a chemical peel.  Before we got started she asked if I could look at a small, white dot that had appeared seemingly overnight by the side of her nose.  I told her truthfully that I wasn’t sure what it was and that perhaps it was a clogged pore.  Since I work for a doctor we were able to get the doctor to come in and give it a look as well.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the doctor disagreed with my assessment and thought that it could be a precancerous lesion.  My client, on the advice of the doctor, agreed to monitor the area for about a month.  If it hadn’t disappeared in a month she would come back to have it biopsied.

Though I am, of course, hoping for the best for my client and keeping my fingers crossed that this white lesion is nothing, I did tell her that it was great that she was so aware of what was going on with her skin.  If the mark turns out to be something serious we will be able to take care of it before it turns into something even more scary.  Paying attention to your skin could be life saving.

Now if you are wondering what sorts of things to look out for when it comes to your skin here is a slide show of photos of suspicious lesions.  The photos aren’t gross.  Believe me – I get very squeamish very easily so I wouldn’t recommend that people look at photos that would make me cringe or feel sick.

So give this slide show from WebMD a look.  A little knowledge could be lifesaving:

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 2, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 2:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month making this the perfect time for me to once again get up on my soapbox and give out some very important sun protection tips. 

First and foremost, and I can’t emphasize this enough, be aware of the fact that skin cancer is preventable.  Be vigilant about using your sunscreen and you will drastically cut-down on your chances of getting skin cancer.  Never, ever use a tanning bed!  Using a tanning bed is almost like asking to get melanoma.  Just say no!  Get a fake tan instead.

Everyone, no matter what their skin color is, needs to use a broad-spectrum (that means the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day – no matter what.  Even if you the only time you are spending outdoors is in your car driving around – you still need sunscreen.  Even if it is cloudy outside you still need a sunscreen.   Remember to put sunscreen on every part of your body that is exposed – like your ears, your neck, and your hands.

Get a skin cancer check from a dermatologist.  It only takes about 5 minutes.  You can even get one for free.

Protect yourself and protect those you love.  Set a good example for your kids by using sunscreen and wearing a hat when you are outdoors.

Can’t decide what sunscreen to buy?  Get Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit for only $25.  It includes sample sizes of 11 different products.

Want to learn more?  Two of my favorite online sources for skin cancer information are The Skin Cancer Foundation and The American Academy of Dermatology website.

And above all – use your sunscreen and be sun smart!

 

Winter Sun Care December 15, 2010

Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you should put away your sunscreen.  Just the opposite, especially if you are going to participate in outdoor winter sports.  According to an online article in Skin Inc:

… researchers found that while UV levels can be just as high atop a snowy mountain as on a sandy beach in mid-summer, skiers and snowboarders don’t always protect their skin accordingly.  “It’s a little counterintuitive,” lead researcher Peter A. Andersen, of the School of Communication at San Diego State University in California, told Reuters Health. “But there’s an inordinate amount UV at that elevation, reflecting off the snow and coming at you from all directions. Skiers are bathed in radiation.”  … 

Andersen and his colleagues visited 32 high-altitude ski resorts in western North America, where they took a total of 4,000 UV readings—some pointed directly at the sun, others at the sky away from the sun or at the snowy slope of the mountain. On the same days, they interviewed guests on chairlifts and observed their sun-protective clothing and equipment.Not surprisingly, UV radiation peaked at midday, and was more intense during spring than winter, with clear skies and at higher altitudes and lower latitudes. Higher temperatures also played a small role. Of course, avoidance of these peak conditions does not mean absolute UV protection, the researchers say. Although UV can drop by as much as half with cloud cover, for example, there is still plenty of skin-damaging radiation that sneaks through.

“Depending on the conditions, the UV index at a ski resort can potentially be as powerful as Waikiki on a bright, sunny day,” he said, referring to the Hawaiian beach. He pointed out that his team had multiple readings of 10, or “very high,” based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index. But people’s behavior didn’t always match the UV intensity, report the researchers in the Archives of Dermatology.

 

So what can you do to protect yourself from the sun while participating in outdoor winter sports?    Apply a sunscreen with spf 30 or higher every two hours while outdoors or reapply after sweating.  Cover up with gloves, hats with brims, and sunglasses while outdoors.  Any exposed skin should have sunscreen on it so be sure to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears.  And don’t forget your lips!  They need sunscreen as well – always. 

And remember these tips are for everyone even if you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter.  You still need your sunscreen if all you are doing is driving back and forth from work in your car.   Sun protection is  year round committment – never put your sunscreen away!

 

Sources and Further Reading

 

 

 
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