Children should use sunscreens depending on their age. Between 0 and 6 months, you shouldn’t have the child outside, so sunscreen should not be used at all. Between 6 months and 1 year, they should use a physical based sunscreen, for example, something that has titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide. I wouldn’t use any chemical sunscreens until age 1 and after.
I’m asked all the time about, “Should I use sunscreen just in the summer, or should I use it in the winter, or should I use it all the time?” The answer is that you should use it [sunscreen] every single day – whether you think you are going out or not. Because you may think you’re not going out somewhere that day, and you’re going to stay home and you’ll think, “Well I’m not going to use sunscreen,” but then you have to go somewhere. Since most sunscreens require about an hour to fully work on your skin, because there is a chemical reaction going on, most people aren’t going to wait an hour before they leave the house.
So, if you get in the habit of just using it as a moisturizer on a daily basis that is the best thing to do. Not only on your face, but you should use it on your neck, your ears, and you should use it on your hands, and your arms as well. Because when you see older people that have developed bruises on their arms, that is due totally to the sun and not due to their medication – although they think it has to do with possibly blood thinner or aspirin. It does tend to speed up the process, but it doesn’t cause it. If it caused it, then their back, bottom, and every other place on their body should bruise. And the bruising only occurs basically from your hands up to your short sleeve level.
When you take prescription medicines, of course we all have to be in the sun, you need to understand there are certain medications that can make your skin much more sun sensitive. Any of the sulfonamide drugs can do that. So, if you take a sulfa antibiotic drug, if you take a diuretics – almost all diuretics except two are sulfa based. Cholesterol pills, all of the over the counter pills such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, Aleve – those type of drugs tend for you to be more sun sensitive. You need to be aware of that and if you are taking those, you need to consider using a sunscreen that has a high SPF number. I would recommend at least a SPF of 70 or higher. It has to do with the wave length of light that is attracted by the medication and it takes high numbers of sunscreens to block that light.
The most common type of skin cancers are basal-cell carcinomas, squamous-cell carcinomas, and melanomas.
Basal-cell carcinomas are not dangerous, they don’t tend to spread. They do cause a lot of destruction. They can eat a part of your face off, or your nose, or your ear. They’re very treatable, particularly when you catch them very early. You need to watch out for something that looks like a pimple that won’t heal, that seems to come back in the same exact spot. That could be a skin cancer.
Squamous-cell carcinoma is the second most common type of cancer that we see. They come in three different varieties: well-differentiated, moderately-differentiated, and poorly-differentiated. Most of them fortunately are the well-differentiated types that are not generally dangerous, and mimic basal-cell carcinomas as to how they behave. So those things can look like a wart that won’t heal, or rapidly grows.
Then of course there are melanomas, that are the most dangerous types of the common skin cancers that we see. So you have to watch for any mole that changes in color, shape or size. Anything that has an irregular shape.
We go by the “A, B, C, D, Es”:
Diameter – pencil eraser size or bigger
Know what these are, and monitor your skin. And you need to have someone check your back because you can’t see back there, and that’s a common place for melanomas.
When you’re looking for skin cancer, you’re looking for pre-cancers as well as just cancers. So if you have something that either feels sore, or raw, or feels like a sticker embedded to your skin, or something scaly that comes and goes, you should consider seeing your physician. That could be a pre-cancerous lesion, and that can be treated by simply freezing it or superficially removing it. If you don’t treat it, then there is a possibility that that type of lesion could lead to a skin cancer later.
Basically, there are four types of dark skin spots. There are freckles, which we call ephelides. There are liver spots, due to sun damage, as you get older. There are seborrheic keratoses, and then there is the type of pigmentation that you get from taking estrogen, or hormones, or being pregnant.
If you think of an ephelides, or a freckle, there is not much you’re going to do about those, because they’re usually multiple and for most women, they can cover those up with makeup. For most guys, they really don’t care about those. If one of the freckles gets larger and does something totally different, it may require a biopsy to make sure it’s only a freckle Then there are seborrheic keratoses, that look a little bit like moles, but they’re slightly scaly. They’re totally harmless, they’re inherited. Most people don’t like them, so they can usually be frozen off. If they’re larger, they have to actually be surgically removed. But they don’t have to have any treatment at all.
The type of pigmentation you see during pregnancy or when taking estrogen or birth control pills can be treated with sunscreen with a high SPF number and also bleaching creams. We use hydroquinone and we also sometimes use a combination of hydroquinone with Retin-A – a brand name called Tri-Luma®. That gets rid of the pigment, but it only does it on a temporary basis. As long as you’re taking the estrogen, it’s going to be a problem, so you have to continue to treat. You need to particularly use a sunscreen on a daily basis, throughout the entire year.
In recent years, there has been more and more media coverage regarding bed bugs to the point that you may wonder if you should be concerned about this “epidemic”. First of all, we should be hesitant to call anything an epidemic that does not spread disease and is not life threatening. Second of all, we should be hesitant to call this up rise an epidemic. The media hype leads us to believe that every surface or every city is suffering an infestation when it is not.
The up rise in bed bugs is suspected for a number of reasons. Frequent international travel could be to blame for spreading these pests from country to country. Stricter guidelines on pesticides that were once used to wipe out such insects could also be a reason for their increase. Some individuals may be embarrassed to call a professional to treat a bed bug infestation in their home since there is a myth that bed bugs are more common in unclean homes. This may lead them to try to treat the infestation without professional help which is not recommended since some pesticides claim to treat bed bugs but may just disperse them throughout your home, making them even more difficult to treat. Even in an easy case, it may take more than one trip by an exterminator to completely irradiate them from your home.
So, what do you need to know to prevent a bed bug problem? Bed bugs love to hide in cracks, crevices, luggage, clothing, box springs of mattresses and other furniture. If you stay in a hotel, be sure to pull back the sheets and check the seams of the mattress for evidence of an infestation. Always check your luggage carefully when returning from a trip as well, wash new clothing and inspect new furniture carefully.
Evidence of bed bugs can include seeing their excrement, tiny eggs or eggshells. You may notice reddish stains on bedding where the bugs have been crushed while you are sleeping. Dark spots that look like a marker bleed on bedding are left from their excrement. It is a myth that bed bugs are too small to see. Bed bugs have small, oval shaped, reddish brown bodies, and are wingless.
Bed bugs are parasites that require blood for survival. However, leaving a location for an extended period of time will not cause them to die out because they can survive for a year without a human or animal to feed on. Their bite marks usually form small red welts on the skin that are in a zig zag pattern and itch. Bites can typically be treated at home with a corticosteroid cream, but you should make an appointment with a dermatologist if you have blisters, signs of an infection including tenderness and discharge from the bite, or signs of allergic reaction such as red, swollen skin, or hives.
If you believe you are suffering from bed bug bites, give our office a call. We are happy to assist you in regaining a good, painless night’s sleep again!
Although Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer, it is considered the most dangerous because it is more likely to grow and spread. Melanomas may develop anywhere, but they are more likely to start on the trunk in men and on the legs in women. The neck and face are also common sites. Knowing your risk factors and steps for prevention can greatly reduce your chance of developing melanoma and help you discover it early before it has spread and become more serious
Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure whether by sunlight or indoor tanning, is a main risk factor in the development of melanoma. There is a link between the development of melanoma and frequent sunburns as a child. The risk of melanoma is much greater for those with fair skin.
Elderly people are more likely to develop melanoma, but it is also one of the most common cancers in people under 30, especially younger women.
Your risk of melanoma is also greater if you have an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with melanoma. If there is a family history, the risk of developing melanoma at a younger age is greater.
Some individuals may also be at risk due to a weakened immune system. A healthy immune system helps fight cancers, but those that have a weakened immune system due to fighting other diseases or medical treatments that weaken the immune system are more likely to develop any type of cancer, including melanoma.
The best way to prevent melanoma is to examine your skin once a month and to make regular appointments for evaluation with your dermatologist. You should note the color, size, and shape of any skin markings including blemishes, freckles, and moles. Taking photos of any of these spots can also be helpful for a month-to-month comparison.
Conduct self-exams in a room that is well-lit and in front of a full-length mirror. It is also important to have a hand mirror available to help view any areas that are difficult to see. Examine everywhere, including areas you may be less suspicious of such as your soles, palms, and nails. It is also helpful to have a friend or family member help examine the difficult to see areas.
The most important warning sign is a new spot on the skin, a spot that has changed shape, color or size, or one that looks different than the others. An easy rule to follow is the ABCDE rule. Always beware of the following characteristics:
- Asymmetry: Half of the spot does not match the other.
- Border: Edges of the spot are irregular in shape or blurry.
- Color: The color of the spot varies and may include different shades of brown or black, and sometimes patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- Diameter: Spots that are larger than 6 millimeters across (about the size of a pencil eraser) are of a concern.
- Evolving: The spot has changed in color, shape or size.
Melanomas do not always fit these guidelines. It is important to make your dermatologist aware of new growths or changes. Some other warning signs include:
- sores that don’t heal or spread from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
- redness and/or swelling
- sensation changes such as itching, tenderness, or pain
- surface changes such as scaling, oozing, bleeding, or raising
As with all cancers, no one can prevent them from happening 100% of the time, but knowing these risk factors, practicing proper skin care to avoid unnecessary UV light exposure, and regular skin checks for warning signs can help individuals catch melanoma before it becomes a much more serious concern. Be sure to schedule an appointment if you have any new spots, changes in spots, or other warning signs.
As winter draws closer and you’re spending more time indoors, you may be tempted to go to the tanning salon to try to keep your summer glow. Spending a few minutes here or there in the tanning bed is surely harmless as long as you’re not getting burned, right? Unfortunately, you may be surprised to learn how dangerous tanning truly is.
Many incorrectly assume that because it is from an artificial source that tanning beds are not as deadly as the sun. Those in favor of tanning devices may even argue that using these devices are not as dangerous as sun exposure because it is possible to control the intensity and time exposed, but no evidence supports these claims. Moreover, sunlamps may even be riskier because they can be used at the same high intensity all the time when the sun’s intensity varies depending on the cloud cover, time of day and season. Both the sun and tanning beds emit UV and UV-B radiation which increases your risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with melanoma, the deadliest form, being alarmingly wide spread. Research conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) finds tanning to be so dangerous that not only do they recommend that no one under the age of 18 be allowed to use indoor tanning beds, but that indoor tanning should be banned altogether.
Besides the dangers of skin cancer, there are some other not so pretty effects that one can experience due to time spent in the tanning beds including:
- Premature aging. Wrinkles can occur due to the lose elasticity caused by tanning.
- Immune system suppression. UV-B radiation may cause suppression of the body’s immune system functioning as well as the skin’s usual defenses, leading to a higher risk of disease and skin cancer development.
- Allergic reactions. An itchy rash may result after tanning exposure indicating an allergic reaction.
- Eye damage. Irreversible damage may occur to eyes as serious as ocular melanoma.
Some of these effects may not show up until years after the tanning took place, so do not think because you do not notice any negative effects right away that you are safe to continue tanning until problems begin. If you notice any adverse effects after sun or tanning bed exposure, please contact us as soon as possible for an appointment.