I’m not so sure global warming is a true issue, but there sure seems to be something going on with our atmosphere. As a family physician, I’ve removed countless melanomas and pre-melanomas and other skin cancers at an alarming rate the past few years. And even more worrisome is the tremendous increase in young adults (20’s and 30’s) in whom I’ve found numerous cancerous and pre cancerous lesions.
My use of a “Derm scope” in the office makes the diagnosis of risky skin lesions very easy in just a few seconds. Patients can see their “moles” or “lesions” on a monitor screen magnified 25 times and quickly agree when and when not to treat. The use of a headset magnification by physicians is also very helpful, just the patient won’t get to see what the lesion looks like.
So, get checked on a regular basis. Skin cancer is a VERY preventable and treatable disease. Cryo surgery (freezing) and plastic excision techniques make the treatment and prevention easy.
Even better, don’t get sun burned and don’t use tanning salons (more on this in another article).
Sun screens have been significantly improved the past few years. Originally, sunscreens only protected us against UVA (ultraviolet) band and did not do a good job preventing melanomas. Now they must protect against UVA and UVB and are much more effective preventing all skin cancers AND premature aging of the skin.
The FDA has recently updated its recommendations regarding sunscreens. First, they now have ample evidence that sunscreens are safe and their use far outweighs any risk from using the products.
Second, the FDA recommends sunscreen use along with sunglasses, shade, and protective clothing including hats (see Ricky Fowler!).
Third, be sure to use Broad Spectrum screens that protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Use at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher to actually protect against skin cancer and aging.
Some products are water resistant and must specify if they have 40 or 80 minutes of protection while swimming or sweating.
Realize sun screens need to be reapplied every two hours to truly protect skin from cancer and aging. So reapply if you swim or sweat your sunscreen off.
Nothing is ever simple these days. Now sunscreens are broken down into two more categories. Daily use sunscreens will protect against “incidental” sun exposure over short periods of time, i.e., while doing errands or going to and from work.
Active use sunscreens protect against prolonged sun exposure and protect us while doing outdoor recreational activities. They must have an SPF rating of 30 or higher.
Such approved sunscreen products will have these labels on them as of May 15, 2011:
So, be sure to protect your skin AND get regular skin checks by your family physician, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon.
Have a great summer!
This is Dr. J Hocutt for Town Square Delaware Health Alerts. Write to me at AskDrHocutt@TownSquareDelaware.com. My comments are not intended as recommendations for individual treatment. See your personal physician to decide what is best for you.