With the warmer months just around the corner you may be getting ready to plan some fun in the sun. The summertime always finds children spending hours outside playing, as well as beach-filled family vacations, backyard barbeques, and more days just spent soaking up some much-needed vitamin D.
While it can certainly be great for our emotional and mental well-being to go outside, it’s also important that we are protecting our skin against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. These are some habits to follow all year long to protect against skin cancer,
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean that your skin isn’t being exposed to the harmful UVA and UVB rays. The sun’s rays have the ability to penetrate through clouds. So it’s important that you generously apply sunscreen to the body and face about 30 minutes before going outside.
Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Everyone should use sunscreen, even infants. Just one sunburn during your lifetime can greatly increase your risk for developing skin cancer, so always remember to lather up!
Reapply Sunscreen Often
If you are planning to be outdoors for a few hours you’ll want to bring your sunscreen with you. After all, one application won’t be enough to protect you all day long. A good rule of the thumb to follow is, reapply sunscreen every two hours. Of course, you’ll also want to apply sunscreen even sooner if you’ve just spent time swimming or if you’ve been sweating a lot (e.g. running a race or playing outdoor sports).
Seek Shade During the Day
While feeling the warm rays of the sun on your shoulders can certainly feel nice, the sun’s rays are at their most powerful and most dangerous during the hours of 10am-4pm. If you plan to be outdoors during these times it’s best to seek shady spots. This means enjoying lunch outside while under a wide awning or sitting on the beach under an umbrella. Even these simple measures can reduce your risk for skin cancer.
See a Dermatologist
Regardless of whether you are fair skinned, have a family history of skin cancer or you don’t have any risk factors, it’s important that everyone visit their dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. This physical examination will allow our skin doctor to be able to examine every growth and mole from head to toe to look for any early signs of cancer. These screenings can help us catch skin cancer early on when it’s treatable.
Noticing changes in one of your moles? Need to schedule your next annual skin cancer screening? If so, a dermatologist will be able to provide you with the proper care you need to prevent, diagnose and treat both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Tired of having to pluck, wax, and shave every few days? Dealing with thick, dark and unsightly hair in visible areas such as the chin or shoulders? If so, a dermatologist can provide you with a more effective solution for getting rid of unwanted body hair faster and easier. The answer lies in laser hair removal.
Plucking and waxing can be painful and shaving can leave you with ingrown hairs and irritation. None of these methods are fun. Plus, you have to keep doing it every few days or every week if you want smooth skin. Why go through the hassle when a dermatologist can help you get rid of hair without ever having to lift a finger?
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments. This procedure makes it easy to get smoother skin without having to deal with tweezing, shaving, or waxing. This non-invasive laser treatment can treat just about any part of the body; however, it’s most often used to treat the,
- Upper lip and chin
- Bikini line
Thanks to advanced laser technology, our dermatologist can provide patients with a safe, effective, and comfortable laser treatment to help them target and remove unwanted hair for the long term. Most laser systems offer a built-in cooling system to make treatment as comfortable as possible. Depending on the size of the treatment area, laser hair removal can take as little as 10 minutes for regions such as the upper lip or chin and as long as one hour (for a full back).
Since hair grows in cycles, you will need to get several laser hair removal sessions to ensure that our dermatologist removes as much of the hair as possible. The average person will get anywhere from 4-6 sessions. During laser hair removal, the handheld device will be directed over the skin to target and heat up the hair follicles to destroy them, preventing them from growing back. While laser hair removal will not permanently get rid of the hair, it will help the hair grow back fewer, finer, and lighter so they are far less visible.
If you think laser hair removal could help you feel more confident in your appearance, then your cosmetic dermatologist can give you the smoother results you want before summer hits.
Tattoo removal has become one of aesthetic and medical dermatology's most sought-after services. Read on to learn about how this treatment works.
Dermatologists mostly use Q-switched, or quality-switched, laser instruments for tattoo removal. Short, focused bursts of light break up the tattoo pigment that lies embedded in skin. With repeated treatments, the pigment particles eventually clear the body, and the tattoo lightens or fades away completely. Your skin doctor will tailor your treatments to your skin and to your tattoo.
Skin doctors find that older tattoos composed of darker hues such as brown or green respond best to laser removal. Colors such as red or yellow are more easily retained and may not fade completely.
These treatments are best performed by a board-certified dermatologist who will examine your skin and your tattoo, review your medical history, and give you the safest and most effective treatment options available.
The American Society for Aesthetic Surgery reports that skin doctors performed more than 45,000 tattoo removal procedures in 2013, and those numbers continue to rise. In just a few treatments, many patients experience complete erasure of their body artwork.
After your tattoo removal
As you may have some blistering, bleeding, and swelling after your laser removal procedure, you must treat your skin gently afterward. Keep the area clean and dry to avoid infection.
Additional aftercare involves:
- Avoiding sun exposure
- Keeping the treated skin covered
- Wearing loose clothing over the tattoo site
- Applying antibiotic ointment or cream as directed
If you want a tattoo removed...
See your board-certified dermatologist for a personalized consultation. They have the credentials, skill, and tools to do the job safely and effectively. Call your skin doctor today to find out more about removing tattoos.
Do you have a mole? Chances are good that you have few of them, actually. The average person has around 30-40 moles, and while moles are usually nothing to worry about it is important to be able to spot any changes that could be warning signs of skin cancer. That’s why you should perform self-exams every month to check the state of your moles. Just because they could be harmless doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
A mole that develops after the age of 30, a mole that bleeds or a changing mole could be a sign of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. This is why it’s important to check your moles regularly. When found early, melanoma is highly treatable. When it comes to pinpointing melanoma your dermatologist may teach you about the ABCDE's of skin cancer:
Asymmetry: If you were to draw a line down the middle of a mole both sides would be completely symmetrical; however, an asymmetrical mole could be a sign of melanoma.
Border: Melanoma is more likely to produce growths that have jagged or poorly defined edges.
Color: Healthy moles are usually a single color, while melanoma will often contain different colors or dark spots.
Diameter: Most healthy moles are smaller than a pencil eraser. If you notice that one or more moles are getting bigger you should speak to your dermatologist.
Evolution: Moles stay relatively the same over time; therefore, if you notice any changes to the size, color, shape, or texture then it’s time to consult with a skincare professional.
Of course, melanoma isn’t the only type of skin cancer to be on the lookout for. The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinomas often present as waxy-looking pale bumps on the skin, often on the head or neck, while squamous cells feel like firm nodules that may be smooth at first but become scaly.
Even if you aren’t noticing changes in your moles it’s still a good idea to schedule a skin cancer screening with your dermatologist once a year. Those at an increased risk for skin cancer may want to discuss coming in more often for exams. This exam is non invasive and could just save your life. If you’ve never had a skin cancer screening before it’s high time that you scheduled one.
Do you have itchy, scaly rashes? If so, you could have eczema, a common skin condition that could be effectively treated by your dermatologist. Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis, and it can be caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to harsh chemicals. Dry skin can also affect your skin’s ability to form a barrier to allergens, which can lead to eczema. Another common cause of eczema is genetics. If someone in your family suffers from eczema, it increases your chances of developing eczema as well. Immune system problems can also cause eczema.
Both adults and children can develop eczema, however, children are most often affected, especially before they reach the age of five. Eczema develops into a chronic skin condition, with intermittent flare-ups. These flare-ups can often be accompanied by hay fever or asthma.
There are many common signs and symptoms of eczema, including:
- Reddish-brown patches on your feet, hands, ankles, knees, chest, elbows, face, and scalp
- Chronic, severe itching which often worsens at night
- Inflamed, raw, red, sensitive, and swollen skin
- Dry, cracked, scaly skin patches on various areas of your body
- Bumps appearing on your skin which drain fluid and crust over later
For mild cases of eczema, there are a few simple home remedies you can try, including:
- Taking over-the-counter antihistamine medications
- Smoothing calamine or other anti-itch lotion over your skin
- Applying moisturizer when you take a shower
- Applying cool, wet dressings and bandages to affected areas
- Taking a warm baking soda or oatmeal bath
- Placing a humidifier in your home to moisten dry air
- Wearing breathable, cool, cotton clothing
For moderate to severe cases of eczema, you should visit your dermatologist. There are several effective professional treatments your dermatologist may recommend, such as:
- Prescription-strength oral and topical medications to stop itching
- Antibiotic medications to eliminate any underlying infection
- Oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain
- Corticosteroid dressings to reduce inflammation
- Natural light or ultraviolet therapy to reduce or eliminate skin patches
You don’t have to suffer with eczema when relief is just a phone call away. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of eczema by calling your dermatologist today!
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