Here are some ways to protect yourself against skin cancer.
Skin cancer can happen to anyone. While you may assume that it only happens to sunbathers or tanning-bed enthusiasts, the fact is, is that even just being in the sun’s rays for a bit every day can still make you prone to skin cancer. Of course, along with early detection from our Honolulu, HI, dermatologists Dr. Kevin Dawson, Dr. Douglas Chun, Dr. Erin Fuller, and Dr. Sarah Grekin, there are steps you can take right this moment to help protect your skin.
How do you prevent skin cancer?
While you may not be able to 100-percent protect yourself against skin cancer, you can greatly reduce your risk by:
Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you applied sunscreen? If you’re like most Americans, then you probably don’t. Only about 11 percent of Americans wear sunscreen daily and about 46 percent never wear sunscreen. Skin cancer can happen to anyone so you must be protecting your face and body by applying sunscreen every day (about 30 minutes before going outside). Also, remember to reapply every two hours.
Avoiding the Hottest Hours of the Day
If you want to go on your morning run or enjoy some time outdoors (after all, it is important to soak up some vitamin D) you may want to consider doing it before 10 am or after 4 pm, as that 10 am-4 pm window is when the Hawaiian sun’s rays are at their most powerful, which can also increase your risk for sun damage.
Seeking Shade and Wearing the Right Clothes
If you do have to go outdoors, especially during the sun’s peak hours of 10 am-4 pm, you must seek shade whenever possible. You should also wear clothes that cover your skin and are made from light colors and tightly woven fabrics. Remember that the sun’s rays can penetrate through transparent or knitted clothes.
Knowing How to Shop for Sunscreen
Most people don’t even know if they have a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which is important since it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Getting Regular Skin Cancer Screenings
Even if you don’t think you’re at risk for skin cancer, it’s still important to visit our dermatologists here at our Honolulu, HI, practice once a year for a skin cancer screening. We can often catch subtle changes in the color, size, shape, or look of a mole to detect cancer early when it’s often treatable.
Do you need to schedule a skin cancer screening with our Honolulu, HI, dermatologists? Concerned about a new or changing mole? If so, call Dawson Dermatology today at (808) 599-3780 to book an appointment with Dr. Kevin Dawson, Dr. Douglas Chun, Dr. Erin Fuller, or Dr. Sarah Grekin.
It Reduces Stress
Exercise is a great stress reliever, and we also know that acne and other conditions can be exacerbated by stress. Since regular physical activity combats stress, it may also improve certain skin problems such as acne and eczema. After all, our stress hormones impact how much oil the skin’s sebaceous glands produce. You may just find that your brisk morning walk helps keep you calm and collected, while also maintaining healthier-looking skin.
It Gets the Blood Flowing
We all know that blood carries vital nutrients throughout the body, so getting the heart pumping and the circulatory system moving during your next workout session will also get blood pumping faster. This increased blood flow brought on by that HIIT workout or that boxing class also improves circulation even once you’re done working out. This increased circulation could actually help repair damaged cells while promoting the development of new ones. Increased blood flow also removes toxins from the cells.
The Concerns of Exercise on the Skin
Of course, one of the biggest concerns a dermatologist might have for the health of someone’s skin is if they workout outdoors. It’s important to protect your skin from sun exposure, especially during peak hours of 10 am-4 pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
If you do plan to go for a run or workout outside you must look for a pH-balanced, broad-spectrum sunscreen that has at least an SPF of 30. Make sure to apply it to the face and body about 30 minutes before going outside. Since sweating can make sunscreen less effective, it’s also best to wear clothes that cover and protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
If you are dealing with skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, or rosacea and you’re looking for ways to keep these skin conditions managed while still being able to exercise, a dermatologist is one of the best specialists to turn to for answers, recommendations, and treatment options that fit your needs.
In infants, this skin condition is known as cradle cap and it results in greasy, scaly patches of skin on the head. Puberty often brings with it oilier skin, and this is often when we see teens and adults complaining of redness, swelling, or scaling on the scalp, eyebrows, nose, armpits, groin, or upper back.
While dermatologists see this condition in a wide range of patients ranging from newborns to seniors, this condition most often occurs between 30-60 years old. While the root cause still hasn’t been determined, there are certain beliefs as to what might cause seborrheic dermatitis, including a reaction to a type of yeast that’s normally found on our skin. Certain chronic conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, HIV, or epilepsy may also increase your risk for developing seborrheic dermatitis.
- Hormone fluctuations and imbalances
- Weather changes (e.g. cold or dry weather)
- Certain prescription medications
- Detergents, soaps, and cleaning products
In most cases, your dermatologist can prescribe specialized skin products that can help to keep skin moisturized while preventing scaly patches from forming. Cleansers, shampoos, and other products that contain zinc pyrithione are often most effective for treating seborrheic dermatitis symptoms. Some products can be purchased over-the-counter, but for those with more severe symptoms, you may require a prescription from your dermatologist.
Lifestyle modifications such as getting more sleep, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress can also reduce the number of flare-ups you experience. A dermatologist can help map out a treatment plan for you to better manage your symptoms.
If you develop alopecia you may want to point a finger at your genetics. In fact, both parents have the ability to pass down alopecia to their children. So, if you have a family member with alopecia areata then you may be more likely to develop this condition at some point during your lifetime. Of course, genetics isn’t the only factor that plays a role in whether or not you develop alopecia. There are other deciding factors, as well.
As we mentioned above, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body attacks the hair follicles, causing them to slow or even halt hair growth. There are different kinds of alopecia and people experience different symptom severities. Some people may notice hair regrowth in a few months while others may not. Again, you must have a dermatologist that you can turn to for answers.
While there is no cure, there are treatment options out there that can help stimulate hair growth and reduce the immune system response. The type and severity of your alopecia, along with your age and the severity of your hair loss will play major roles in what types of treatment options are best for you. This is something that a skincare professional can discuss with you during your consultation.
- Topical or injectable corticosteroids
- Minoxidil solution (applied to the scalp to regrow hair)
- Anthralin cream
- Oral steroids
- Immunomodulatory medications
- Topical immunotherapy
What should I expect from a skin cancer screening?
There is nothing uncomfortable, painful, or invasive about a skin cancer screening. This can be a relief to know and may even make someone more likely to come in for the screening they need. A skin cancer screening involves a simple, non-invasive visual examination that is performed by a qualified dermatologist. Your skin doctor will examine all growths, moles, and birthmarks to check for any changes in shape, color, size, or texture that could be warning signs of cancer.
Just as with any health screening, a skin cancer screening can help your dermatologist detect skin cancer during the very early stages when it’s highly treatable. If your dermatologist does detect a suspicious growth, they may recommend a biopsy. A biopsy simply means that your dermatologist will remove a small amount of tissue from the area to test for cancer cells.
Who should get a skin cancer screening?
Everyone can benefit from a skin cancer screening; however, certain risk factors can increase your odds of developing skin cancer over your lifetime. It’s important to know your risk level so you can talk with your dermatologist about how often you should come in for screenings. Those at increased risk may need to come in more than once a year. These risk factors include,
- Being fair-skinned
- Having blonde or red hair
- Light eyes
- Skin that burns or freckles easily
- A history of sunburns
- Family history of skin cancer
- Extensive sun exposure (e.g. working outdoors)
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