Archive for the ‘Smart Prevention Practices’ Category

New Year, New Skin Safety Practices

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Happy New Year! With the ushering in of 2012, we at MoleSafe decided that now was a great time to remind everyone of safe sun practices. After all, the start of a new year means new resolutions, and what better resolution is there then promising to protect your skin? Preventing skin cancer and melanoma is the first step, and while skin cancer is not 100 percent preventable, there are a lot of things that you can do to help your odds.

The Melanoma Research Foundation reminds us that, “Approximately 65 percent of melanomas—the most deadly form of skin cancer and one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States—are attributed to ultraviolet (UV) exposure from sunlight or artificial sources such as tanning beds”. They go on to say that although melanoma can develop on areas of the body not exposed to the sun, your best bet is to slather on the sunscreen. This applies to even the cloudiest of days.  Specifically they ask that we:

  • Be sure to use a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Look for ingredients in your sunscreen such as titanium dioxide and mexoryl, which block UVA rays better.
  • Use enough sunscreen. To protect your entire body, use approximately an ounce of sunscreen (about a full shot glass) and apply it at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Re-apply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating, even if the bottle says it’s waterproof or long lasting.
  • Remember, wearing sunscreen is not a blank check for spending unlimited time in the sun. Sunscreen is just one component of sun safety.
Protection doesn’t end at the sunscreen however. The American Cancer Society reminds us to cover up! Slapping on a hat and sunglasses on top of sunscreen adds even one more layer of protection. Clothing can also be worn to block out some UV rays. The society reminds us to be wary however because, “If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too. Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays”.

We are also reminded to limit our sun exposure during the midday sun. At this time of day, the sun is at its strongest and is most harmful to us. The specific hours for this time  are between 10am and 4pm. If you are planning on spending a long amount of time outdoors during these hours, check out a UV Index to see how at risk you are.

So take these helpful tips and adapt them to your routines in this new year. We hope you have a safe and healthy 2012!
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Melanoma of the Eye

Monday, November 28th, 2011

When most people think of melanoma, they think of the skin. Moles or other marks which prove to be cancerous come to mind. What many people neglect to think of, or are unaware that they should even be thinking of, are our eyes. Eyes are capable of developing melanoma.

Ocular melanoma develops because our eyes have melanin. Melanin is what produces pigment, and the cells that produce melanin can become cancerous. The Mayo Clinic points out that, “Most eye melanomas form in the part of the eye you can’t see when looking in a mirror. This makes eye melanoma difficult to detect. In addition, eye melanoma typically doesn’t cause early signs or symptoms”.

An article on Just Cancer describes the stages of the cancer. In the first stage, the melanomas have, “…approximate thickness of 1 to 2.5 mm and maximum width of 10mm”. They are small, and generally do not spread to other areas. Luckily, the chance of survival is at 84%.

In stage two the melanoma increases in size. The chance of survival also remains relatively high at 68%. What changes in this stage however, is that symptoms can begin to appear. Loss of vision, seeing spots, and seeing flashes of light are all possible.

In stage three the cancer can spread beyond the eye, but not to the lymph nodes. The symptoms are similar to those in stage 2, but the tumor is much larger at 10mm thick and 16mm in diameter. The survival rate at this stage is 47%.

At stage four, the melanoma begins to spread to other organs and the lymph nodes. There is generally appetite loss and malaise accompanied with possible loss of vision. The survival rate at this stage drops dramatically to only 15%.

So, as we can see, melanoma of the eye is very serious. As we apply our sunscreen we must also remember our sunglasses. Those with UV protection are what we at MoleSafe recommend. You can find a wide variety of shapes and colors to match your every mood!

 

 

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Skin Cancer on the Rise. True or False?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The truth is, the incidence of skin cancer is rising, and makes up about 50% of all cancers in the U.S.  Some experts believe the increase is partly based on better detection — like advanced screenings we do at MoleSafe — and partly based on increased awareness.  But certainly we’re also all aware that sunscreen is our first line of defense for preventing sunburn.

Or is it?

Actually, wearing protective clothing (long sleeves and pants, hat, and sunglasses) and staying out of midday sun are your first and second lines of defense…followed by sunscreen.  That’s according to a Consumer Reports Quiz of facts and myths about sun exposure, reported by The Washington Post.

Separating the facts from the myths is more important than ever.  And being smart about UV exposure shows you know how to make the right choices.  As Dr. Allan C. Halpern, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The Melanoma Letter and Chief, Dermatology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, says

…fashion and recreation trends leading to increased ultraviolet sun exposure and tanning bed use are likely the major driving force behind the melanoma epidemic.

With melanoma on the rise, it makes sense for us all to be more UV savvy.  See how “sun smart” and knowledgeable you are about skin cancer.  Try a few of these sample questions.  Then check out the rest of the Consumer Reports Quiz to see how well you know your facts from your myths about sun exposure and cancer.

Here are a couple of questions to get you started with our added comment on the answers…

  1. Melanoma’s death rate is higher for those with darker skin.  TRUE OR FALSE?
    • TRUE. While the incidence of of skin cancer is lower, more skin cancers go undetected in people with darker skin, often from fewer exams…so don’t rest on statistics! For more details, see our post from last May.
  2. Men and women are at equal risk of getting skin cancer.  TRUE OR FALSE?
  3. Having a lot of regular moles increases the risk of melanoma. TRUE OR FALSE?
    • TRUE. “A lot” is roughly defined as about 50 or more, but other factors include genetics, hair and eye coloring, and previous sunburns.

More details about risk factors are on the quiz, and the truth about which of your moles might be suspicious is available from a screening at MoleSafe.

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Summer Sun Smarts for Skin Protection

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Here’s a a round-up of reminders for being smart during summer sun activities:

Bikers

Cycling news site, Nouvelles à Vélo du Monde — Bike World News –  has some practical reminders:

People who bicycle a lot have several strikes against them when it comes to skin cancer… Because many cyclists ride near their homes, they think they’re not at risk if they don’t put on sunblock — even for a short ride. The problem is that cyclists tend to expose more skin than other athletes because of the clothes they wear (shorts and short-sleeve shirts). In addition, many cyclists may not realize that water, sand, and asphalt streets reflect dangerous UV rays.

In addition to the expected recommendations such as sunscreen, including face, nose, neck and ears, less obvious suggestions include moving your cycling time to when the sun is less severe, such as early morning, wearing riding gloves and also a thin cycling hat under a helmet.  Bicycle Face Jersey Share The Damn Road_1311041505092

Another interesting suggestion?:

Don’t forget to stay hydrated while cycling by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic beverages before  and during a ride. When your skin dries out or is not hydrated properly, it’s more susceptible to sunburn and long-term skin damage.

Beach and Pool:

Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours when you’re in the sun and every 40 minutes if you are in the water.  And don’t forget your feet.  Believe it or not, some say flip-flops are causing increased skin cancer!  Well, not the sandals themselves, but the increased popularity of that sun-exposing style vs. covered shoes.  But as described on Fort Bragg Patch.com,

“Being protected from the sun doesn’t mean you have to throw all the fun out the window. Find the coolest pair of shades you can come by, get a ridiculously big hat (like Carrie from Sex and the City), park it under a tree or umbrella and sip on something fruity to keep you cool.”

That said, sometimes a burn will still happen.  USAToday.com has good and practical treatment advice in that worst case scenario.  I encourage you to read it, but some high points are:

After a cool shower or bath, slather on a moisturizing cream or lotion to soothe the skin. …And consider a product containing vitamin C and vitamin E: It might help limit skin damage (though studies have not proved that)… It’s also OK to use a hydrocortisone cream for a day or two to relieve discomfort.

…Drink extra water, juice and sports drinks for a couple of days and watch for signs of dehydration… Children are especially vulnerable, so check with a doctor if they appear ill.

Consider medicating with ibuprofen which not only alleviates the pain and some swelling, but might prevent some long-term skin damage.  While they remind us most sunburns can be treated at home, “if a blistering burn covers 20% or more of the body (a child’s whole back), [or if symptoms such as fever or chills occur] seek medical attention”

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A Happy, HEALTHY Father’s Day for Dad AND Kids

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Our best wishes for a happy and HEALTHY Father’s Day!  And apropos to that, WebMD posted an excellent reminder about the need to protect young children from the sun because “the changes that lead to skin cancer may actually begin during baby’s first year, when an infant’s skin is most vulnerable to burns and sun damage, according to a new report in the July issue of Pediatrics.”  So, here’s a reminder of best sun safety practices for kids…and even kids at heart:

“A child’s skin has structural quality that makes it more vulnerable to the effects of UV radiation, and this can result in an increased risk of later skin cancer,” said Roya Samuels, MD, a pediatrician at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.

New York City dermatologist Doris Day, MD, says that “newborns, infants, and toddlers have skin that is continuing to develop…and it is really important to protect it,” she says.

However,  it’s not easy to find sunscreen for infants and toddlers: “Sunscreens for infants must be non-irritating to the skin and eyes…” For both these reasons, for the first six months, infants should be covered from direct sun via clothing, hats, etc., This is also important since harmful rays can penetrate car and home windows. (Consider clear protective window coatings.)

EWG-dadimage Then, in selecting a sunscreen, with a minimum SPF of 15, many parents “may prefer that infant sunscreen leave a temporary film so they can be sure all exposed body parts are well covered. In addition, water-resistance is an important quality for infant and toddler sunscreens….” as is the need to ensure a sunscreen blocks against both UVA and UVB rays.  The thicker zinc- or titanium-based products are more opaque and sit on skin more than getting absorbed.  “…And zinc and titanium don’t irritate the eyes as much because they tend to stay in place.”  babyganics-coverup-baby-sunscreen-mdn

We shared the Environmental Working Guide’s new rating of more than 1,000 sun products in our last post.  And The Daily Green culled through that list to post their selections from that list of the 13 most affordable natural kid and baby sunscreens with mineral sunblocks.

As mentioned in WebMD:

Ravinder Khaira, MD, a pediatrician with Sutter Independent Physicians in Sacramento, Calif., says that applying sunscreen — and reapplying it according to the directions — is the No. 1 way to prevent sunburn and sun damage that can lead to skin cancers when children grow up.

Take special care to cover their ears, nose, and scalp, he says.

Young children do have highly sensitive skin, so it’s a good idea to do a small patch test before slathering on a new sunscreen. “Test it on the forearm and wait about 30 to 40 minutes to see if any hives, swelling, redness, or itchiness occur,” Khaira says.

If children get sunscreen in their eyes, flush their eyes and face with cold water to minimize any irritation, he says.

It’s not always easy being a dad…or a mom.  But once the kids are slathered up, you can sit back and rest.  For a second.

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A moving video: “Dear 16 year-old me…”

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

We thought this was an impactful video from the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, a Canadian non-profit doing a good job of raising awareness among young people and their caregivers about the importance of prevention and early detection of Melanoma.  This Public Service Announcement speaks for itself…and for many who are no longer able to tell their story of melanoma.  Please share with everyone…and especially every 16 year old… that you know:

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May Help for Melanoma

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and we have a few ways to make the vigilance easier!  First, we invite you to “like” our new MoleSafe Facebook page!  We’ll try to keep you updated with interesting updates from all our locations and patient comments.  Straightaway you might want to check out the patient video of the Walters sisters who get regular check-ups at our CentraState MoleSafe location after they were each diagnosed around age 30.  They describe our approach and their version of sun protection vigilance, too.

Next, what better time than Mother’s Day to thank moms like the Walters sisters who now also ensure they practice safe sun exposure for their kids as well!  As a reminder, that includes having them play in the shade, using protective clothing, and applying sunscreen regularly.

Melanoma Hold On to Hope Shirt from Zazzle.com_1304799692466Speaking of sun exposure, SpaFinders is in on the awareness path with a sun-exposure alert bracelet!  Much better idea than the “suntan turnover time alerts” we still hear on the radio some times…

Another way to make a “fashion statement” about melanoma is through the numerous items touting Melanoma Awareness which you can find at Zazzle.com, for example.

We applaud the AAD’s “31 Days and 31 Ways” to Prevent and Detect Melanoma.  Check out each of the days of May for good tips and suggestions, as well as their list of locations for free skin cancer check-ups.  Of course, we believe that May is the best time — before summer kicks off — to get the most thorough exam possible using the latest high tech methods of screening for skin cancers and melanoma, and that is the methodology used by MoleSafe in the U.S. and MoleMap worldwide.

Here’s to a good, healthy month of May!

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May Day for Melanoma

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Today is Melanoma Monday, and as described in an upbeat but informative blog, “EGMN: Notes From the Road” – by the Maryland-based staff of the Elsevier Global Medical Network – Melanoma Monday could “use some love.” Melanoma Monday is a good idea — intended to kick off the stepped up education and outreach during May as Melanoma/ Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.  However, it IS sort of challenging to love ANY Monday, associated with heading back to work, let alone one named Melanoma Monday.

EGMN sums it up with insight and humor:

…who would want to visit a website called Melanoma Monday unless you already have an interest in the disease. Which is too bad, because there is some cool stuff there that could help with melanoma prevention and early detection.

Free skin cancer screenings are being offered in May, and site visitors can find one near them. What if clinic waiting rooms let patients take the site’s Suntelligence Survey on a computer and offered sunscreen samples as prizes? And hey, let’s get the kids involved with the cool Body Mole Map that you can download from the .org site. Make it a game! Make it an annual birthday ritual now, so that by the time they’re young adults they’ll want to keep doing it for nostalgia’s sake, if nothing else.

So, EGMN, we agree, and we’re here to support Melanoma Monday and show it some love.  Because what’s in a name, when lives could be saved?  Coming up from Melanoma Updates (yes, perhaps we could have a more scintillating name, too!), we’ll share some resources and recommendations for loving the whole MONTH of Melanoma awareness.

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If you must tan…

Friday, April 15th, 2011

There is still a feeling by many that tan-looking skin is preferable to pale.  We’re still working to buck this perception Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, for those who still want the glow but have at least gotten the message that they should do it without the sun, here are some suggestions by NBC’s Today Show  style editor, Bobbie Thomas on the best of sunless tanners.

Note: this is not an endorsement of any particular product…just an endorsement of getting the look you want in a safer way:

1. First up, cult favorite “Big Bronzer” by Cargo Cosmetics. The jumbo oversized palette will instantlBuzz from Bobbie Thomas_1302394347737y warm up your face or body. With just a hint of shimmer, you can quickly apply a little or a lot for a natural looking glow.
2. For an even easy-to-apply application simply swipe on a little color… Kate Somerville’s Tanning Towelettes are paraben-free, streak-free and mess-free, while Dr. Denese’s Glow Younger Self-Tanning Gloves will do the same and offer anti-aging benefits.
3. New on the bronzing scene is Temptu’s Summer Skin 3 Step Air Pod system–perfect for die-hard spray tan fans who want to give it a go at home.
4. Last but not least, if you want a faux glow without the long-term commitment, L’Oreal and St. Tropez both offer great “1 Day” options that easily wash away with soap & water.

PS:  The timing has never been better for encouraging your teen to try sunless tanners. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, which officially opposes indoor tanning and supports a ban on indoor tanning for non-medical purposes, most tanning salon patrons are white females in their teens and 20s.  And not coincidentally they also point out:

  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
  • Melanoma is increasing faster in females ages 15-29 than males in the same age group. The torso is the most common location for developing skin cancer which may be due to deliberate tanning.
  • Studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma.
  • So consider Bobbie’s sunless tanners recommendations or take those of the AADA and just say no to tans altogether.

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    A Winner On and Off the Course

    Monday, March 7th, 2011

    Rory Sabbatini won another golf tournament last week, making it a sixth PGA title and earning him a slot in the Masters. But he won a bigger round just a few months ago, when he caught and had a skin cancer on his face removed.

    Rory Sabbatini Prevails on the Course and Against Skin Cancer

    Rory Sabbatini Prevails on the Course and Against Skin Cancer

    As reported by Reuters, “Nine days after the birth of the Sabbatinis’ third child, Bodhi Mac, the golfer went under the knife to have a cancerous growth removed from his face. The scare has led to him wearing a broad rimmed hat and smearing his face in a special sun-cream each time he steps on a golf course.”

    I think Rory deserves the Hats On Award, not just for making sun protection a fashion statement on the course, but for all he’s doing to promote awareness.  As posted in Golf Week,

    The bad news is five-time PGA Tour winner Rory Sabbatini was diagnosed with skin cancer in December. The good news is he is “fine” after surgery, though he will have to be careful and wear big hats and be diligent in applying sunscreen.  The better news is Sabbatini, among the top 20 in Tour earnings four of the past seven years, is planning to raise money for charity through a sunscreen-related launch at next week’s PGA Merchandise Show.

    SmartShield has announced a partnership with Rory promoting it as his official sunscreen. Rory began wearing the SmartShield logo on his shirt and covering his face and arms with the sunscreen at the Sony Open in Hawaii. rory Sabbatini with sunscreenAs golf season is dawning again with Spring around the corner, make sure you are course-correcting with these suggestions from another terrific post in Golf Week :

    “Everybody needs to be smart,” said David Donatucci, the PGA’s director of fitness and performance. “As a golfer, you’re out in the sun for five hours. You need sunscreen. You need to reapply sunscreen. You need to drink water. You need to eat a little something. All these things need to become habits, and that’s the message we are spreading….Sunscreens are becoming more user-friendly.

    Golfers should wear it every time they play, regardless of conditions. Playing golf in cloudy conditions doesn’t protect you from UV rays. They come through the clouds.”

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