Seasonal Skin Information from Idaho Dermatologic Surgery & Laser Center in Southern Idaho


 
 
 
 

Seasonal Skin Information

During the fall and winter months, some turn to covering bare skin areas and remain inside nicely air conditioned buildings. There are, however, a couple of problems that arise in these months:

Sun Protection

It is of the utmost importance to always use sunscreen frequently, even if the weather is cold, cloudy, or raining/snowing. Up to 95% of the sun's ultraviolet rays are able to cut through clouds, so even if it is cloudy this doesn't suggest you can go without wearing sunscreen.
Many love winter activities such as skiing, riding snowmobiles, snowshoeing and more, but forget or decide not to utilize sunscreen while spending time out in the sun.
Reflection from the snow can administer a "double dose" of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light severity also grows with higher altitudes, meaning skiing on a mountaintop can dangerously escalate ultraviolet severity. In addition, for people who work outdoors, sunscreen is necessary in all seasons.
 
 
 
 

Vacations

It is never a good idea to suntan, regardless if it is by lying out in the sun or unnaturally through using tanning beds. Keep in mind, a suntan represents that the skin has been damaged by the sun. It is the skin's answer to the dangerous ultraviolet rays that it has been exposed to. Sunburns are even worse. It only requires one serious (blistering) sunburn in your life to greatly increase your risk of skin cancer.
In modern times, many items have been created that offer "sunless" tanning in the fashion of creams, lotions, sprays and more. If a "tanned" color to the skin is wanted, this is a safer choice than spending time in the sun without the protection of sunscreen and protective clothing or a tanning bed.
 
 
 
 

Skin Cancer

How Skin Cancer Forms

There are three primary forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
The most common case of skin cancer is either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells make up most of the surface layer of the skin. Basal cells occur in smaller numbers and are located in the lowest part of the skin. Of the two, basal cell carcinoma is much more common and is attributed with slower growth. It rarely spreads through the blood or lymphatic systems to distant parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer. It is more serious, since it has a greater ability to spread internally to the nearby lymph nodes and to other parts of the body.
 

Types of Skin Cancer

There are three primary forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
Most cases of skin cancer are either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells make up most of the surface layer of the skin. Basal cells occur in smaller numbers and are located in the lowest part of the skin. Of the two, basal cell carcinoma occurs more frequently and grows more slowly. It rarely spreads through the blood or lymphatic systems to distant parts of the body.

MELANOMA: OVERVIEW

 
Melanomas: This type of skin cancer can develop in an existing mole or look like a new mole on your skin.
Also called malignant melanoma
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body. This can be deadly.
 
melanoma
 
There is good news. When found early, melanoma is highly treatable.
You can find melanoma early by following this 3-step process:
Dermatologist examiningwoman for skin cancer: If you notice a mole that differs from others on your body or a spot that is changing, bleeding, or itching, see a dermatologist.
 
melanoma
 
  • Learn the warning signs of melanoma.
  • Look for the warning signs while examining your skin.
  • See a dermatologist if you find any of the warning signs.
 
It only takes a few minutes to learn the warning signs. You’ll find everything you need to start examining your skin today on the Body Mole Map.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer. It is more serious, since it has a greater ability to spread internally to the nearby lymph nodes and to other parts of the body.
on the other hand, may be life-threatening if not treated early. It usually appears as a brownish-black spot or bump in the skin that enlarges and sometimes bleeds. Sometimes it arise in moles that have been present for many years.
 
 
 
 

Causes of Skin Cancer

Exposure to the sun appears to be the leading cause of skin cancer, which commonly develops on the face, neck, and arms, the most sun-exposed areas of the body. Fair-skinned people develop skin cancer more frequently than darker-skinned people. Cancers of the skin are most common in the southern United States.
Skin cancer also tends to be hereditary and occurs very frequently in certain ethnic groups, particularly those with fair complexion such as Northern Italians, Scandinavians, and Celtics (especially Irish and Anglo-Saxons).
Other possible causes of skin cancer include X-ray treatments, chronic trauma and certain chemicals.
 

Signs of Skin Cancer

 
 
 
Although most skin growths are benign, any new growth on the skin or a sore that does not heal should be brought to your dermatologist's or primary care physician's attention.
Skin cancer has many different appearances. Commonly, it may begin as a small, waxy lump that eventually bleeds and crusts, or as a dry, scaly, red patch. Although it may begin very small, skin cancer can grow to become very large.
Skin cancer sometimes forms from a pre-cancerous skin condition called actinic keratosis. These are red, rough patches of skin that develop as a result of sun damage. They are commonly found on the face, neck, or hands.
If the doctor thinks that a skin growth may be cancerous, a biopsy is performed. The whole area or a sample of the area is removed surgically and sent for examination under the microscope. The biopsy is used to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of cancer and to determine the type of any cancer found.
 
 
 
 

Treatment of Skin Cancer

Several effective methods are used to treat skin cancer. The treatment method chosen depends upon factors such as the location of the cancer, its size and previous therapies.
The treatment methods include surgical excision (this means surgically cutting the tumor out and closing the wound with stitches), curettage and electrodessication (scraping the tumor and burning the area with an electric needle), radiotherapy (X-ray treatments), cryosurgery (freezing), a topical cream (Aldara or imiquinmod) applied to the skin for several weeks, Photodynamic therapy (a medicine is applied to the area which increases sensitivity to light, then the area is exposed to red or blue light), and Mohs micrographic surgery. Many of these treatments have high cure rates, but Mohs micrographic surgery uniformly produces the highest success rate, especially for the most difficult tumors.
 

Defense Against Future Skin Cancer

The most important thing you can do to lessen the possibility of developing future skin cancers is to protect your skin from further sun damage. This is easily achieved by the daily application of sunscreens to all exposed skin, including the tops of the ears. In addition, further protection is achieved by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and appropriate protective clothing. Limiting exposure during the times of the day when the sun's rays are most intense (10:00 am to 4:00 pm) is also important.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunscreen Information

What are sunscreens

Sunscreens are products that protect the skin from damage caused by ultraviolet radiation (UVR). They do this by using: organic chemicals that absorb light and dissipate it as heat; inorganic filters (blockers) that sit on the surface of the skin and act as physical barriers; or a combination of both.
 

Ultraviolet Radiation

There are three types of UVR:
  • UVB - primarily responsible for sunburn and suntan. Long-term exposure leads to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
  • UVA - primarily responsible for premature aging and skin cancers like melanoma and basal cell carcinoma.
  • UVC - is absorbed by the earth's atmosphere
 
 
 
 

What Protection do Sunscreens Provide

SPF 30 sunscreens filter 97% of UVB rays. Products that contain 6% or more zinc oxide provide very good UVA protection. Two lines of skincare have recently introduced products with good UVA protection: Neutrogena products containing Helioplex™ and La Roche-Posay's Anthelios SX containing Mexoryl™.
 

Key Points about Sunscreens

  • No sunscreen is "waterproof/sweatproof." Sunscreen should always be applied to dry skin. All sunscreens start to come off during activity; it is important that sunscreen by reapplied after towel drying. Products labeled as "waterproof" in the United States have completed an 80-minute still-water bath test.
  • No sunscreen provides "all-day protection." As stated, chemical absorbers work by absorbing light, but they can be unstable when exposed to light. For example, avobenzone loses 36% of its effectiveness within the first 15 minute of sun exposure. Inorganic filters (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) adhere to the skin but can be removed during towel drying. The FDA has asked for voluntary removal of the label claim "all-day protection."
  • High SPF sunscreens don't necessarily offer broader or better protection. SPF only indicates the amount of UVB protection a product provides and does not indicate how much if any UVA protection is provided. The consumer needs to understand that the specific formulation of the sunscreen determines the amount of protection. Zinc oxide products (6% or higher) provide very photostable UVB and UVA protection. High SPF products (i.e. SPF 45, 55, 60) typically contain high levels of organic chemicals that can increase the potential for irritation and absorption, especially in children.
  • No sunscreen offers complete protection against the sun. Therefore, products using the term "Sunblock" are a misnomer as they allow some UV to penetrate the skin. A product that contains Zinc Oxide does provide blocking (reflective) capabilities, but even Zinc Oxide, unless applied as a paste, allows a little UV to penetrate the skin.
For more information on skin cancer and sunscreens visit this website, especially the "Facts About Sunscreen" Section: http://www.skincarephysicians.com/skincancernet/index.html.
 
 
 
 

Recommended Products

There are numerous brands and types of sunscreens available that are acceptable to use. We recommend any of the Neutrogena products with Helioplex™ as they are easy to find in most drugstores or pharmacies and offer good UVA as well as UVB protection.
 

Example Facial Moisturizers with Sunscreen

  • Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15
  • Oil of Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer, SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 30 Daily Moisturizer
  • Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion SPF 30
 
 

For Men

  • Neutrogena Triple Protect Face Lotion, SPF 20
 

For Kids

  • Banana Boat for Kids
  • Waterbabies by Coppertone
 

Make Up / Foundation

Many foundations offer sun protection. We suggest a product that is oil free for acne prone skin.
For additional information, The Skin Cancer Foundation website provides lists of recommended products: www.skincancer.org.
 
 
 
 

Sun Protective Clothing

No sunscreen blocks 100% of ultraviolet radiation. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a combination of sunscreen, sun protective clothing, and sun avoidance to provide prevention of skin cancers.
The following websites offer a variety of options for sun protective clothing: