May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!

Protect yourself and your family by learning more about this preventable disease.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and you know what that means! Time to break out the sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, and avoid spending too much time in the sun. But seriously, why is skin cancer awareness month so important?

For starters, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 10,000 Americans die from skin cancer each year.

And while skin cancer is found mainly in older adults, it can affect people of all ages. Read on to learn more about how to protect your skin because it could save your life!

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer.

More than 3.5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. But what exactly is skin cancer? Well, it’s basically when cells in your skin start growing out of control. There are three main types of skin cancer.

  • Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer, and it usually shows up as a small, pinkish bump on your skin.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Is the second most common type of skin cancer, and it usually appears as a scaly patch or a sore that doesn’t heal.
  • Melanoma: This is the third most common type of skin cancer, and it’s the most dangerous. Melanomas can show up as dark spots on your skin, which can be hard to detect. But if you catch them early, they’re usually curable. So if you notice anything different about your skin, make sure to see a doctor right away.

Skin cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Can you believe that skin cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in America? It’s true! Most skin cancer cases are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. When our skin is exposed to UV rays, it can damage the DNA and cells. This can lead to changes in the DNA that can cause skin cancer.

Skin cancer usually develops over time, so it’s important to protect your skin from UV rays, especially if you’re fair-skinned or have a history of sun exposure.

Risk factors for getting diagnosed with skin cancer

While anyone can get skin cancer, certain risk factors can increase your chances of being diagnosed. By understanding these risk factors, you can take steps to protect yourself from skin cancer. Some of these risk factors include:

Having fair skin

If you have fair skin, you might not think you’re at risk of getting skin cancer. However, fair skin is one of the most significant risk factors for being diagnosed with skin cancer. This is because fair skin doesn’t have as much melanin, which is a pigment that helps to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. As a result, fair-skinned people are more likely to get sunburned, and they’re also more likely to develop skin cancer if they don’t take precautions against the sun. If you have fair skin, it’s important to be extra careful when you’re outdoors.

Being exposed to UV rays

Most of us enjoy soaking up some sun, but it’s vital to be proactive about protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. Spending too much time in the sun can lead to several problems, including sunburn, premature aging, and, most seriously, skin cancer.

 Not only is skin cancer one of the most common forms of cancer, but the rates of diagnosis are also on the rise. While many factors can contribute to developing skin cancer, exposure to UV rays is one of the biggest risks. That’s why it’s so important to take some simple precautions to help reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Having a family history of skin cancer

If you have a family member who has had skin cancer, you may be wondering if you’re at increased risk for developing the disease. The answer is yes – having a family history of skin cancer is one of the major risk factors for getting diagnosed with the disease. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to get skin cancer if your family has a history of the disease. 

There are a number of other factors that can increase your risk, including exposure to UV rays, fair skin, and a history of sunburns. But if you have a family member who has had skin cancer, it’s important to be extra vigilant about protecting yourself from the sun and checking for signs of the disease.

Being over the age of 50

While anyone can develop skin cancer, certain risk factors can make you more susceptible to the disease. One of these risk factors is age. The AAD says that people over 50 are more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer than people in younger age groups. This is because the older you are, the more time you’ve had to accumulate sun damage to your skin

Conclusion

So, there you have it! Some of the major risk factors for developing skin cancer. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the sun! Just remember to take some simple precautions to help protect your skin. And if you’re ever concerned about a possible skin cancer diagnosis, be sure to see one of our dermatologists at the Skin and Cancer Institute. Need sunscreen? We’re doing a promo here for 20% off antioxidants and sunscreen throughout May!

How Common Cancers Are Treated With Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Mohs is a surgical technique for removing skin cancer–one layer at a time. The dermatologist removes a layer of skin, looks at it under the microscope, and then only removes another layer of skin if cancer cells are still present.

It’s considered the gold standard of skin cancer surgery and is favored above local excision. That’s because not only does regular surgery remove cancer, it takes the surrounding healthy skin with it. Mohs surgery, in contrast, leaves healthy tissue intact and makes for the smallest scar possible.

Where Did it Get Its Name?

Frederic E. Mohs, MD developed the technique that is now known as Mohs surgery in the 1930s and it became more widely known in the 1960s. Today, dermatologists across the country (including at the Skin and Cancer Institute) practice this technique.

Who’s a Candidate For Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is used to treat people with basal and squamous cell carcinoma. It’s helpful for skin cancers that have a high risk of recurrence. It’s also useful for skin cancers that are:

  • Large
  • Aggressive
  • Have borders that are hard to define
  • Are located in areas like the face, where you want the smallest scar possible.

Is Mohs Surgery an Outpatient Procedure

Yes. Mohs surgery is done at your dermatologist’s office and is performed under local anesthesia, so you can go home the same day. It’s difficult to know just by looking at the surface of the cancer how deep it might go. That’s why it’s hard to estimate how long the surgery will last. It can take anywhere from a few hours to the entire day to perform because it’s done in stages.

How is Mohs Surgery Performed?

Your dermatologist will remove the visible part of the cancer. They’ll also take a bit of the underlying skin. This skin is examined under a microscope. If cancer cells are still present, the surgery continues, one skin layer at a time, until all the cancer is removed.

You Leave Skin-Cancer Free

An advantage of Mohs surgery (despite the time commitment) is that you leave your dermatologist’s office confident that you are cancer free! Your dermatologist ensures this when they examine each layer of skin they remove–they only stop when the cancer is gone.

Aftercare

The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove the cancer while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue in place. This makes for a smaller scar than standard skin cancer surgery. Your dermatologist will give you wound care instructions, which may include introducing silicon dioxide gel or pads to the healing process. This helps the scar heal as unnoticeable as possible.

The Bottom Line

Mohs surgery was named after Dr. Frederic E Mohs, who developed the technique nearly one hundred years ago. It’s used to remove skin cancer, especially basal carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The technique is unique because your dermatologist only removes one layer of skin at a time. They examine that layer under a microscope-looking for cancer cells. If none are found, the surgery is over and the wound is closed. If cancer cells are still present, another layer of skin is removed until you are cancer free. Because Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure, you can go home the same day. Scarring is minimal (compared to standard surgery) and your dermatologist can give you silicon dioxide gel or pads to improve the healing process.

UVA vs. UVB Rays: What’s the Difference?

One burns your skin, and the other ages it. That’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays. Think . . . UVA (Ages) and UVB (Burns)—if you want to remember it easily. 

So, why bother knowing the difference? Because some sunscreens will only protect you against one type of ray, that’s why. Especially if they’re chemical sunscreens. Read the label. And always choose broad-spectrum protection. 

Both Rays Hurt Your Skin

Now that you know both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays are harmful, you’ll never again settle for partial protection. Instead, you’ll reach for a BROAD spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both. 

Where Do These UV Rays Come From?

Ultraviolet rays come from nuclear reactions inside the sun. This radiation travels to earth, where it reaches your skin (or another surface). Rays can bounce off concrete, grass, water, snow, and more to again bombard our skin with . . . you guessed it . . . UV radiation!  

UVA and UVB Rays Damage Differently 

  • Ultraviolet (Aging) rays damage collagen and elastin, making your skin break down and age early. (UVA rays also unleash harmful free radicals). Wrinkles are a common sign of early aging caused by the sun. 
  • Ultraviolet (Burning) rays damage DNA in your skin cells. This causes mutations that can make skin cells multiply quickly and form malignant tumors, also known as cancer. 

Types of Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms inside the dark spots on your body. Other types of skin cancer include:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

You’re at Risk Constantly

UVA (aging) rays break through cloud cover. So, you’re at risk any time the sun is in the sky. So, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Every. Day. Of. The. Year. It doesn’t matter whether you’re spending your time outside or inside. 

Still At Risk Indoors

You are still at risk of damaging rays indoors. UVA (aging) rays can penetrate glass windows and damage your skin while you sit on your couch, at your desk, and more. A UV window film could help block UVA rays. 

You’re Especially at Risk Outdoors

Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen outside. Layer your UVA and UVB sunscreen protection with other things like clothing, sunglasses, a hat, and an umbrella. Look for shade when possible. And try to avoid the sun when it’s at its most intense, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Here’s Some Good News

Vitamin D3 is one positive outcome of exposure to UVB rays. These ultraviolet rays help your body make vitamin D3 which is beneficial for your bones and muscles. But you don’t need much UVB exposure to reap these benefits, so remember to prioritize sun protection.

The Bottom Line

The difference between UVA and UVB rays is that one type ages your skin, while the other type burns it. Both damage your skin. 

You’re constantly at risk of ultraviolet rays whether you’re indoors or out. That’s why it’s crucial to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, year-round. 

Sunscreen is your skin’s first line of defense against sunburns and premature aging. But it’s not always enough, which is why we recommend layering your protection.

An umbrella, hat, sunglasses, and clothing are all helpful.  So is finding shade when you’re outside.  Plus, try to plan your outdoor time before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. when   

Ready to begin your journey to healthier skin? We’re here for you at the Skin and Cancer Institute. Our compassionate dermatologists know how hard it is to protect yourself from the sun and just how much damage can build up over the years. Make this the year you get your skin checked! Call us at 888-993-3761, and we’ll help you schedule an appointment.

Got Skin in The Game? Let’s Protect It

You can protect your skin just by knowing your skin type. Your skin type tells you whether you need a minimum SPF of 30 or if 15 will do. It also tells you whether you need to start annual skin check-ups at age 30 or if you can wait until you’re 40.

Your skin type can also predict your chances of skin cancer. That’s right. The amount of pigment your skin has can predict your skin’s reaction to the sun and, ultimately, your risk, overall, of skin cancer.

Knowing your skin type is the first step to keeping it safe. Wondering which category you fall into? Read on.

The Fitzpatrick Scale

This scale is a scientific skin classification system. It has six categories to describe different skin shades and characteristics.

What Fitzpatrick Skin Type Are YOU

Find your skin type by matching it to the category below that best describes your skin shade BEFORE sun exposure. Then read the ways you can better protect your skin type. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1 

For this skin type, your skin is ivory, and your eyes are a light blue, green or gray. Your hair is red or light blond. You have freckles. Your reaction to the sun? You always burn and don’t tan. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 2

You have fair or pale skin. Your eyes are blue, green, or gray, and your hair is blonde. You usually get freckles and burns that peel. You rarely tan. 

How to Protect Yourself

You have a high risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. Your skin easily ages and gets sun damage. Protect yourself with the following tips:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
  • Protect your skin with long sleeves, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. 
  • Give yourself a monthly skin check
  • Get an annual skin check with your doctor, especially if you are over thirty. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 3

Your skin is either fair or beige, and your undertones are golden. Your eyes are hazel or light brown, and your hair is dark blonde or light brown. Your skin freckles, burns, and tans sometimes. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4

You have olive or light brown skin. Your eyes are dark brown. You don’t get freckles, you rarely burn, and you tan easily.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 5

Your skin is dark brown. Your eyes are dark brown or black, and so is your hair. You seldom get freckles or burn. Your skin always tans in the sun. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6

Your skin is dark to darkest brown. Your eyes are brownish-black. You never get freckles or burn, and you always tan. 

How to Protect Yourself

You have a risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. So, protect your skin from the sun with the following tips: 

  • Use and SPF 15 or higher sunscreen
  • Wear long sleeves, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
  • Give yourself a monthly skin check
  • Get an annual skin check with your doctor, especially if you are over the age of forty.

Summary

Knowing your skin type can help predict your chances of getting skin cancer. The Fitzpatrick scale is a classification system that predicts your skin’s reaction to the sun based on how much pigment it has. And since knowledge is power, you can use what you know to protect yourself from the sun. 

It’s best to have daily sun protection regardless of your skin type. If you have light skin, you’ll need an SPF of 30 or higher every day. If your skin is tan to dark, you need a daily sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. 

All skin types should do a monthly self-exam. See a dermatologist for an annual exam starting at about 30 if you have light skin. If your skin is tan to dark, see a dermatologist for a yearly exam after 40. 

Ready to begin your journey to healthier skin? Please call 888-993-3761 to schedule an annual skin check today with one of our dermatologists at the Skin and Cancer Institute. 

How Lasers Can Reverse Sun Damage

Are you one of the people who grew up when it was “cool” to bake in the sun? It’s okay. You can admit it. After all, millions of people from your generation are right there with you. They’ve also accumulated sun damage. And with it the consequences, which include aged-looking skin and an increased risk of skin cancer. 

Fortunately, modern science can undo this damage with LASERS. That’s right. Lasers. They send forth magical bursts of light that can make new skin grow. If it sounds high-tech, it’s because it is. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 

What Are Lasers?

A skin laser is a tool used to improve your skin’s tone, texture, and coloration with targeted, controlled light and heat. NASA said Laser means:

L – light

A – amplified

S – stimulated

E – emission

R – radiation

How Do Lasers Work?

Some lasers (non-ablative) penetrate the layers of your skin and injure it in a tiny, controlled way. This stimulates your body’s healing process. Collagen and elastin rush in to build fresh skin cells and collagen. The result is newer-looking skin that is tighter, smoother, and more clear. 

Other lasers (ablative) remove the top layer of skin to reveal fresher skin underneath. 

Now that we know the fountain of youth is in your dermatologist’s office (in the form of a laser) let’s take a look at what different lasers can do for your aged, sun-damaged skin. 

  • Lasers Can Target Spots

Pigment-specific lasers remove brown pigmentation, including freckles, liver spots, and melasma.

  • Lasers Can Target Veins

Vascular-specific lasers like Pulse Dye Laser (PDL) target broken blood vessels (a result of sun damage).  

  • Lasers Can Target Wrinkles

Wrinkle-specific lasers go deep and increase collagen production, which produces young-looking skin.  

  • Lasers Can Target Cancer

Some lasers can target lesions, both benign and malignant. 

Get Ready For Laser Treatment

It takes about one month to prepare for your laser treatment. You’ll need to take special care to avoid sun exposure during this time. This means wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen daily. You’ll want to also protect yourself with an umbrella, hat, and sunglasses. 

On Your Procedure Day

Laser resurfacing is an outpatient procedure so expect to go home the same day. You can also expect to be given something to manage the pain. The procedure can vary from about 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what type of laser is being used and how much work you’re doing. 

Post-Procedure

Expect to clean and moisturize your face diligently for a few days. Some lasers just make your skin red for a while. But, depending on the type of laser used, you might need to clean your skin regularly and apply an ointment after the procedure to prevent infection and scab formation. Talk to your doctor about which type of laser is best for your skin condition and how long they expect the healing process to take. 

Closing Thoughts

Millions of people like you grew up during a time when baking in the sun was acceptable–and even encouraged. Times have changed, but your skin damage is still there in the form of spots, veins, wrinkles, and maybe even lesions. Lasers can undo some of this damage. Talk to your dermatologist about the best course of treatment for your unique skin. 

Are you ready to begin your journey to healthier skin? Contact the Skin and Cancer Institute at 888-993-3761 today to book an appointment.

How Winter Sunscreen Can Save Your Skin

Our dermatologists want you to wear sunscreen during the Winter. Don’t think you need it? Well, you do. The sun’s UV rays are with us daily. If the sun is up, UV rays cascade down.

Even if the day is cloudy and overcast, the sun has still come out. Sure, the sun’s UV rays are weaker in the Winter than in the Summer. But they’re still there, causing your skin:

  • DNA damage
  • Premature Aging
  • Cancer

That’s why the Skin and Cancer Institute dermatologists want you to wear sunscreen daily, even in the Winter. Still not convinced?

Here are three facts that show you ARE getting damaging UV rays in the Winter and need to protect your skin with daily sunscreen. 

  1. Altitude–If you live at a high elevation, more UV rays will reach the ground than if you live at sea level–but you’re still getting UV damage daily at sea level.
  2. Clouds–UV rays can and do make their way through clouds, and you’re still getting exposure if the day is cloudy. 
  3. Surface reflection–UV rays bounce off nearly every surface. This is especially true of pavement, water, and snow. 

UV Exposure

A person’s amount of UV exposure depends on variables like ray strength, exposure time, and protection from clothing or sunscreen. But the bottom line is that you ARE getting damaging UV rays in the Winter. 

Winter Sunscreen is a Necessity

Ultraviolet rays reach your skin even when it’s cold and even when it’s cloudy. And the damage these rays do to your skin is cumulative, so the damage builds, little by little, year after year. 

But, I Don’t Burn in The Winter!

You probably don’t think of the winter months as a time you need to wear sunscreen. That’s because winter sunburns are rare as you’re more covered up than usual and spending more time indoors compared to summertime. Still, winter sun damage happens (if at a reduced rate), and sunscreen is necessary. 

Sunscreens Are Better Than Ever

There have been so many incredible advances in the formulation of sunscreen that wearing it can be enjoyable. Gone are the days when physical (mineral) sunscreens left your face looking chalky. Nowadays, they can come tinted to match your skin tone beautifully, like Taheri MD Ultra Shade Sunscreen

The Bottom Line

Dermatologists want you to wear sunscreen in the Winter. If the sun is out, so are damaging UV rays, regardless of whether the day is clear or cloudy.

Yes, the sun’s UV rays are weaker compared to the Summer, but they are still causing damage. This includes DNA damage and premature aging that could lead to skin cancer. 

Year-round sunscreen is necessary, even if you don’t burn in the Winter. Sunscreen formulations are better than ever nowadays and can be enjoyable to wear. 

Are you ready to begin your journey to healthier skin? Please call us today at the Skin and Cancer Institute, and we’ll help you set up an appointment with one of our dermatologists for an annual skin check-up. 

The Best Sunscreen For Every Body Part

You need the best sunscreen for every body part. That means what’s suitable for your arms and legs is not necessarily what’s best for your face and neck. So, which sunscreen do you put where? Stick with us as we explore the best sun protection for you–from head to toe, we’ve got you covered!

The Best Facial Sunscreen

Let’s face it; your facial skin is the most visible and delicate on your entire body. So it makes sense that you’d want to find the best sunscreen for your face, which makes up about one square foot of skin, by the way.

Choose Non-Comedogenic Sunscreen

You’ll want protection without pore-clogging ingredients that could make acne flare. So, look for NON-COMEDOGENIC products. This means they won’t plug your pores.

Get Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Your face needs broad-spectrum sunscreen. It protects your facial skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Not all facial sunscreen falls into this category, so you’ll want to make sure you see “BROAD SPECTRUM” written on the container.

The Best Facial SPF is 30+

The skin on your face needs a minimum SPF of 30. Sun protection factor measures how much sun exposure it takes to burn your skin with sunscreen versus without sunscreen.

Here’s another way to see it. SPF is about the INTENSITY of sun that hits your skin, not about how many minutes of sun you get.

Higher SPF = More Sunburn Protection

An article by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) called “Sun Protection Factor (SPF)” explains it this way:

“The following exposures may result in the same amount of solar energy:

  • One hour at 9:00 a.m.
  • Fifteen minutes at 1:00 p.m.

Generally, it takes less time to be exposed to the same amount of solar energy at midday compared to early morning or late evening because the sun is more intense at midday relative to the other times.”

To Mineral, or to Chemical? That is The Question

Now that you know the best sunscreen for your face is a non-comedogenic one, is broad-spectrum, and SPF 30 or higher, there’s only one question left to answer. And that question is this: does your face need a physical or chemical sunscreen, and what’s the difference, anyway?

The Difference Between Physical And Chemical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients reflect the sun’s rays with a physical barrier.

Chemical sunscreens, by contrast, absorb the sun’s rays and then release them through the skin in the form of heat.

Choose a Physical (Mineral) Sunscreen For Your Face

Mineral sunscreen is the way to go, especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to acne, because mineral sunscreens tend to be non-pore-clogging.

Your Body Needs Sunscreen Protection

Let’s move on to the rest of your body–which makes up about 20 square feet of skin! This is a lot of surface area to cover with sunscreen, which is why dermatologists recommend you rub the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen into your skin.

Where to Rub in Sunscreen

You’ll want to pay special attention to rubbing sunscreen on the parts of your body that are exposed to the sun. If you’re in a bathing suit, you’ll need protection everywhere. This includes your:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Torso
  • Back
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Ankles
  • Feet

What Brand of Sunscreen Should I Use On My Body?

The best sunscreen for your body is, well, the one you’ll use. Seriously. So, feel free to focus on sunscreen features (like broad-spectrum and SPF) instead of stressing about the brand.

Have Fun

This is also the time to have a little bit of fun. So, assuming the sunscreen you’re considering meets all of the requirements for broad spectrum and SPF, then you get to move on to the fun things . . .

Do you find the look of the bottle attractive and ergonomic? How about the smell? Do you like it? If you can sample it, consider how it looks and feels on your skin. If it’s a sunscreen you can get excited about and use, then it’s the best sunscreen for you.

Do you have additional questions about sunscreen? Your annual skin check-up is a great opportunity to ask them as you’ll be face to face with your dermatologist.

Are you ready to schedule your appointment? Please call us at the Skin and Cancer Institute today: 888-993-3761.

It’s National Cancer Prevention Month

In honor of National Cancer Prevention Month, let’s talk about skin cancer, the most common type in the world. More people get skin cancer than any other type of cancer. If you live to 70, there’s a one-in-five chance you’ll develop skin cancer. So how do you prevent it? How do you make sure you’re one of the 4 in 5 people who will NOT develop skin cancer?

Skin Cancer is Preventable

The most important thing to know about skin cancer is….drum roll… it’s PREVENTABLE. That’s because approximately 88 percent of skin cancer cases are linked to sun exposure (and sun exposure is something you have some control over). The key is to pick up some healthy skin care habits– preferably at a young age–and continue them as you grow older.

Healthy Skin Care Habits

You can protect yourself from the sun by following healthy skin care habits, such as limiting your sun exposure. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology Association also recommends that you seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing, and apply sunscreen.

Seek Shade

It’s vital to seek shade during the time when the sun’s rays are most intense. Generally, peak sun hours are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Wear Sun-Protective Clothing

Protective clothing on hot, sunny days when you’re dripping sweat can be as simple as wearing a loose, breathable cotton or linen long-sleeve shirt while you’re in the sun.

Apply Sunscreen

And applying sunscreen means you put it onto all sun-exposed skin (face and body) 15 minutes before you go outside. Remember that sunscreen wears off and loses its effectiveness over the day, so it’s best to regularly reapply, especially when you’re swimming or under intense sun rays.

Other Ways To Protect Yourself

In addition to the tips listed above, there are many other ways to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. These include wearing a hat and sunglasses, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, protecting your lips, staying away from tanning beds, avoiding sunbathing, using sunscreen pills, and getting an annual skin check-up.

Wear a Hat (And Sunglasses, Too)

Broad-brimmed hats protect your face and neck from intense rays that could otherwise damage your skin. The same is true of sunglasses, which protect your eyes from harmful UVA / UVB rays.

Use a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

A broad-spectrum sunscreen will give you maximum protection from skin cancer. Make sure to buy and use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Protect Your Lips

The delicate skin on your lips is susceptible to lip cancer. Protect yourself with lipstick, chapstick, or lip balm with SPF.

Stay Away From Tanning Beds

Using a tanning bed one time when you’re young can raise your risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. The Skin Cancer Foundation calls tanning beds “dangerous”. Each time you tan this way, the sun damage builds up and creates genetic mutations.

Avoid Sunbathing

Although less dangerous than tanning beds, the sun’s rays are still harmful and increase your risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Most people prize a bronze glow to their skin, especially in the summertime. If this describes you, consider getting this glow from sunless tanning products like sprays and lotions.

Use Sunscreen Pills

There’s a pill for almost everything these days, and that includes sun protection. Sunscreen pills are an excellent way to get a little extra help for your skin. But they’re no substitute for conventional sunscreen, so make sure to use that too.

Get an Annual Skin Check-up

National Cancer Prevention Month reminds us that dermatologists recommend getting a professional skin check-up each year. This is a great time for you to ask questions and advice from your dermatologist. And it’s the perfect opportunity for your dermatologist to take a look at your spots and moles and determine if anything looks suspicious and needs treatment.

Ready to celebrate National Cancer Prevention Month? Book your annual skin check exam today! Call us at the Skin and Cancer Institute, where we’re prepared to help you begin your journey to healthier skin.

Botox, Dysport, And Xeomin Are Similar – Here is How

People talk about Botox so much these days you’d think it was the only wrinkle relaxer on the market, but it’s not. Botox’s younger brand-name siblings, Dysport and Xeomin work in the same way and are just as effective (if less talked about) than Botox. This probably stems from the fact that the FDA approved Botox first, while the other two alternatives were approved a few years later.

Botox was discovered by an eye doctor more than thirty years ago. She was trying to help a patient’s eye spasms. But what she also found out was that botulinum toxin did something else–it smoothed her patient’s eye wrinkles! This led to the use of neurotoxin injections for cosmetic purposes.

What are Botox, Dysport and Xeomin?

All three of these are brand names for neurotoxins. They all contain botulinum toxin type A. It blocks the release of neurotransmitters and temporarily paralyzes your muscles so they can’t contract. The result is wrinkle-free skin. They are used to treat forehead wrinkles, the “11s” wrinkles in between the eyebrows, and crow’s feet.

Botox

  • Botox is made by Allergan.
  • It got FDA approval in 2002.
  • It takes about 4-7 days for botox to work.
  • Botox can last up to five months.

Dysport

  • Dysport (pronounced diss-port)
  • Is made by Galderma.
  • The FDA approved it in 2009.
  • It only takes 2-3 days to kick in.
  • It can last up to five months.

Xeomin

  • Xeomin (pronounced Ze-oh-min)
  • Merz Pharmaceuticals makes it.
  • It won FDA approval in 2010.
  • Effectiveness kicks in after 4-7 days.
  • It has been shown to last up to six months.

Alternative Uses for Botox, Dysport and Xeomin

Botox, Dysport and Xeomin are all good options for smoothing out wrinkles. But did you know they can do more than make you look younger? They also help alleviate migraines. It turns out that neurotoxin injections can keep pain signals from reaching your brain. Your dermatologist can also use neurotoxins to treat excessive underarm sweating. It works by blocking the nerve signals responsible for activating sweat glands.This paralyzes overactive sweat gland nerves. Neurotoxins are also used to relax the jaw muscle in people who clench their teeth. This helps weaken the jaw muscle and make it look less developed and pronounced.

Which is better: Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin?

Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are all made from botulinum toxin type A. It blocks the release of neurotransmitters and temporarily paralyzes your muscles so they can’t contract. These three neurotoxins are slightly different, although mostly similar. Talk to your dermatologist about which one they recommend for you. Some dermatologists have more experience injecting one neurotoxin over another. The big unknown in whether or not you’ll get a natural looking result depends less on the product injected and more on the skill of the injector, so steer clear of med-spas with injectors who are not doctors.

Bottom Line

Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are all great products that the Skin and Cancer Institute offers its patients. We have highly-trained injectors to handle all of your cosmetic concerns. If you’re ready to begin your journey to smoother, more wrinkle-free skin, contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Are Your Skin Growths Precancerous?

Precancerous skin lesions are not cancer but could become cancer over time. These lesions include actinic keratosis.

Actinic Keratosis

The most common form of precancer is actinic keratosis (AK). It is also known as solar keratosis because it’s caused by long-term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. AKs can eventually develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

What’s Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

The second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma affects millions of people each year. This type of carcinoma is made up of flat squamous cells that live near the middle and outer layers of the skin. Ultraviolet radiation can trigger abnormal changes in the squamous cell. Squamous cell carcinoma develops from precancerous actinic keratoses.

What Actinic Keratosis Looks Like

Actinic keratosis looks like patches of skin anywhere from flesh-toned to red, tan, white, pink, or a combination of colors.

How do They Feel?

They are sometimes raised and are dry and scaly. Actinic keratosis’s rough texture can make it easier to feel than see. Your skin might be:

  • Dry
  • Raw
  • Sensitive
  • Painful
  • Itchy
  • Burning
  • Inflamed

What Else Should You Know About Actinic Keratosis?

The precancerous growth often shows up on the parts of the body that get the most sun, like the scalp, face, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.

Stay Away From The Sun

Avoiding the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays is the single best thing you can do for yourself to prevent developing Actinic Keratosis. But if you already have AK you should still avoid the sun to reduce the risk of this precancerous lesion turning cancerous over time.

Tips For Staying Safer in The Sun

No sun exposure is the healthiest option for your skin. But because you can’t avoid the sun entirely, it’s best to minimize your exposure. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and reapply it as it loses effectiveness as the hours wear by. Sun protective clothing is helpful, too. Try wearing long, light layers of breathable cotton or linen. A hat and sunglasses are essential, as is finding shade whenever possible. And avoid being outdoors when the sun is most intense, which is generally from 10 am to 4 pm.

Keep an Eye on Your Growths

The main thing to remember is that cancer often starts as a change to an existing growth. That’s why it’s vital to keep an eye on your dry, scaly keratosis spots if you have them. Look out for new or evolving growths, especially if they bleed.

Treatment

If you have AK, there are plenty of treatment options for you. These include:

  • At-home treatment: Your dermatologist may prescribe medicated creams for your skin.
  • Chemical peels: Gently destroy unwanted patches in your top layer of skin.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezes AKs with liquid nitrogen.
  • Excision: Your dermatologist will cut out the AKs.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This treatment destroys AKs with creams and light therapy.

See a Dermatologist

A dermatologist can help you by performing an annual skin exam to determine if your skin growths are precancerous. This early detection makes them highly treatable before they develop into skin cancer. Everyone should see a dermatologist for an annual exam, but this is especially true for people with Actinic Keratosis—they should be under a dermatologist’s care. Ready to begin your journey to healthier skin? Schedule and appointment with the Skin and Cancer Institute today.