Protect your skin against cancer and spot early warning signs.
Skin cancer remains one of the most prevalent cancers in the US; however, one of the biggest causes of skin cancer is also completely preventable: Exposure to UV light (both natural and artificial) can impact your likelihood of developing skin cancer at some point during your lifetime. While seeing a dermatologist once a year for a skin cancer screening is important, here are some tips that you can start following now to reduce your risk for skin cancer,
Apply Sunscreen Every Day
If you’re going to spend any time out in the sun you need to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Opt for a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and make sure to apply a generous amount (about 1 ounce of sunscreen for the entire body) at least 15 minutes before going outside.
Reapply Sunscreen Throughout the Day
If you’re going to go outside, the best bet is to always apply sunscreen, even if you’re just going for a drive (the sun’s rays can still reach your skin through car windows and the sunroof). Yes, the sun’s rays can even damage your skin on rainy, cloudy and snowy days! If you’re spending a considerable amount of time outdoors (e.g. playing sports or enjoying the beach) you will want to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or immediately after getting out of the water. The same rule applies if you’re sweating. You can never reapply too often!
Know the Best Times to Go Outside
The sun’s rays are most potent between the hours of 10 am-3 pm. This means that you are more likely to get sunburned during these hours (it can take less than 15 minutes to get sunburned). So, if you spend hours outside you can only imagine just how bad this can be on your skin. Limit time in the sun during these hours, or at the very least use an umbrella or seek the shade if you must be outside.
Recognize the Early Warning Signs of Skin Cancer
The only way to catch skin cancer early when it’s treatable is by performing self-exams on your body at least once a month. Make sure that you are checking every area of your body, from your scalp to between your toes. After all, while skin cancer most often develops in areas exposed to the sun, this isn’t always the case.
When examining growths and moles you should look for changes in,
Healthy moles stay relatively the same over time, so if you notice any changes that have you concerned then it’s time to schedule a skin cancer evaluation with a dermatologist.
With summer just around the corner, it’s important that you protect your skin from cancer and sun-related damage. If you’ve never gotten a skin cancer screening, it’s a simple, painless checkup performed by a dermatologist, and it shouldn’t be missed.
Most Birthmarks are Harmless
As we mentioned before, most birthmarks won’t cause you any harm or affect the health of your skin. Of course, some birthmarks could potentially cause complications and should be monitored by a dermatologist. For example, a strawberry mark can sometimes evolve into an open wound and become infected. If you’ve been told that your birthmark is a melanocytic nevus, then this is something that should be monitored regularly to make sure that it doesn’t develop into cancer later in life.
Treating a Birthmark
If you are feeling a bit self-conscious about your birthmark you’ll be happy to hear that many of them will fade over time. Of course, you may want to talk with your dermatologist about birthmark removal options if the birthmark you have could potentially cause some health risks for you or if your birthmark embarrasses you.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a dermatologist who can assess whether the benefits of having your birthmark removed outweigh the cons. For example, birthmarks that could potentially affect vision or hearing should be removed. Some removal methods include:
- Corticosteroids: injections or oral steroids can stop the birthmark from growing and can shrink it
- Interferon alfa-12: this can also shrink the birthmark (particularly if corticosteroids do not work effectively)
- Laser therapy: can be used on certain birthmarks like port wine stains
Whether you want to find out if you should have a birthmark removed or you just want to schedule a skin cancer screening, a dermatologist can help you make important decisions regarding treatment options and your skin health.
What is an irregular or atypical mole?
Medically referred to as dysplastic nevi, these irregular moles are benign but having them could put you at an increased risk for developing melanoma over your lifetime. These moles can develop anywhere on the body but are most often found on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Since these moles vary greatly in appearance it’s important to monitor your moles regularly so you can recognize when unusual changes are occurring and call your dermatologist.
What does an irregular mole look like?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offers a simple ABCDE guideline to follow to be able to spot unusual or suspicious changes in a mole. Here’s what the ABCDEs stand for:
Asymmetry: when the halves of the moles don’t match each other in shape or appearance this could be a sign of a cancerous mole
When should I see a dermatologist?
If you have any concerns about a mole don’t hesitate to call your dermatologist to have it checked out. The sooner melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are detected and removed the better. Of course, everyone can benefit from visiting a dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. You should also be performing self-exams once a month to keep track of your moles.
If you have an irregular mole or a mole that’s changing in appearance, it’s best to play it safe and schedule an evaluation with a dermatologist who can examine the mole to make sure it hasn’t turned cancerous.
Here are some of the top ways a dermatologist may treat facial scarring:
Sometimes, simply injecting collagen or other substances into indented areas of the skin can help to plump up the scar so that it’s more level with the rest of your face. While it won’t make the scar go away it can make it more noticeable. Since results from injectables are temporary, you’ll need to talk with your dermatologist about how often you should come in for treatment.
During a chemical peel, your dermatologist will apply a chemical to the surface of the skin to remove the outermost and often most damaged layer. This can target and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and even scarring. Since chemical peels can be tailored to you and your needs, it may even be a good option for someone who is dealing with deeper scarring.
This is another option for those dealing with deeper facial scarring. Like chemical peels, dermabrasion also removes the outermost layer of skin with a special device or brush. This system is so powerful it may even get rid of superficial scars while also reducing the appearance of more severe scars.
This option has become a popular way to treat a wide range of skin imperfections including facial scarring because it can often provide similar results to dermabrasion but with more advanced and precise technology. However, this option may not be ideal for individuals with darker skin or those who are prone to keloid scars.
If you are interested in treatment options that could lessen the appearance of your scars, a dermatologist is the best specialist to speak to about your options. Call your dermatologist today to learn more.
What are spider veins?
These small raised, swollen, and twisted blood vessels are often red, purple, or blue and are easily seen through the skin. Spider veins most commonly appear on the legs and face.
Are there any symptoms of spider veins?
Both spider and varicose veins often don’t produce any symptoms; however, some people may experience swelling, aching, burning, tingling, or cramping of the legs.
What causes spider veins?
There are a variety of reasons why spider veins may develop including,
- Jobs that require standing for long periods (e.g. nursing)
- Birth control pills
- Medical history of blood clots
Besides the causes above, age and gender also play a role. More women than men develop spider veins. The likelihood of developing spider veins as you age also increases. It’s believed that anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent of adults have spider veins.
What can I do to treat spider veins?
There are many different ways in which a dermatologist can treat spider veins including,
- Recommending support stockings: They can reduce any pain or discomfort associated with spider veins
- Altering your lifestyle: this includes losing weight if necessary, taking care of your skin, and increasing physical activity (which can sometimes help spider veins)
- Sclerotherapy: a common procedure used to remove unsightly spider veins. By injecting saline solution into the vein, the vein will disappear over the next couple of weeks
Dealing with spider veins? Want to get spider vein-free legs that you can wait to show off? If so, it’s the perfect time to turn to your dermatologist to discuss ways of getting rid of your spider veins.
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