When I was a child, my Mom had a skin cancer scare. It was a spot on her back that the dermatologist found among the thousands of freckles she had. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing but from that point on, my Mom went crazy protecting me and my brothers from the sun. In a way, I’m kind of glad as the situation made our entire family aware about skin cancer. And since childhood, I have developed good habits when I’m outside. Habits I hope to pass on to my own children (I must be doing something right as my children as usually the palest ones at the pool!). Research has shown that it only takes a few bad burns, usually early in life, to cause damage. In honor of Melanoma Monday, I hope you will take a few minutes to read up on skin cancer. Skin cancer is scary just by the mere fact that it is the most common cancer. At the same time, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.
Here are some recommendations to help you and your family protect your largest organ.
- Wear sunscreen every day. Even when it’s a cloudy day, you are still getting sun exposure.
- Remember sun exposure affects your entire body. Don’t forget to protect your ears, nose, back of neck, hands and feet.
- Apply liberally. Use 1 ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover the body and apply every 2 hours at a minimum.
- Avoid direct sunlight between 10 am – 2 pm. If you have to be outside, stay in the shade, wear a hat and sunscreen.
- Start young. Teach your children good habits by applying sunscreen before they play outside. Sunscreen should not be applied on infants younger than 6 months so it’s best to keep them out of the sun altogether.
To learn more and find a free skin cancer screening near you, check out the American Academy of Dermatology.
In honor of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention month, I thought I would do a product review on a daily facial sunscreen. Even though I had heard the importance of wearing a daily sunscreen for years, it wasn’t until I was 25 that I made a commitment to wearing it every day. And shortly after that, I noticed a nice change in my skin. I know it sounds corny but my skin seemed to be happy. And then I was mad at myself for not starting sooner. The hint of tan lines from my sunglasses disappeared. Yes, I would get lines on the bridge of my nose and along my temples from sunglasses. I am half Filipino so it literally only takes a few minutes in the sun before color starts to develop. Besides my skin tone improving, I even noticed that breakouts were greatly reduced. So, with all these great benefits, I was hooked. When it comes to a daily facial sunscreen, I have certain criteria that must be met.
- It has to be SPF 30 or higher.
- The formula must be lightweight and not greasy because makeup will be going over it.
- No sunscreen smell.
I recently picked up a bottle of Eurecin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion with SPF 30 at Ulta. I was actually looking for a different product that I sampled from my dermatologist but the product was out of stock. So, I started looking at every moisturizer and the sunscreen ingredients. After having children, I noticed my skin has become very sensitive to certain sunscreen ingredients. I think I’ve narrowed it down to avobenzone which is too bad because besides being a great UVA blocker, it is in a lot of products which means there are a lot of products I can’t use. Even though it is a lightweight lotion, it is very moisturizing which I don’t really need. It’s great while I’m inside, but I’m afraid it may be too heavy if I were to be outside all day. We are just starting to get the summer heat so I’m interested to see how it holds up in the Georgia humidity. The Eurecin lotion contains a blend of both chemical and physical sunblockers. The physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which block both UVA and UVB rays. This product is formulated nicely as it leaves no trace of white on your skin as physical sunscreens usually do. And the chemical sunscreens are ensulizole, octinoxate, and octisalate which all absorb UVB rays. I have to say this is the first time I have used a product with ensulizole. After doing a little research, I found that ensulizole absorbs UVB rays and only short UVA rays. Because this product was formulated with both chemical and physical sunscreens, it effectively protects against UVA and UVB rays and can claim to be a broad spectrum sunscreen. I will say it does have a slight sunscreen smell. But it is not too heavy as to make me think that I should be at the pool when I’m sitting at my desk. Overall, I’m pleased to have found a daily sunscreen that my skin will tolerate. But I am still going to look for a product that works better with oilier skin. I will also be looking for a daily body sunscreen and noticed on the back of the Eurecin bottle that they also make a daily body lotion with SPF 15. I will definitely be picking that up.
The warm weather is here and summer is just around the corner which makes it fitting that May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. And today, May 6th is Melanoma Monday. It’s that time we shed the long sleeves and pants for tank tops and shorts. But exposing our skin doesn’t mean leaving it unprotected. Now is the time to add sunscreen to our routine. Hopefully, you are already using a daily SPF on your face. If not, it’s time to add that to your routine as well.
Even with all the knowledge we have about how harmful (and potentially deadly) the sun can be, it never ceases to amaze me how many people continue to sunbathe, use tanning beds and/or never use sun protection. We can drastically reduce our chances of developing skin cancer simply by using sunscreen and avoiding unnecessary exposure. Besides, who wants to have their skin exposed to the sun’s harmful rays? How many times have you seen an older man or woman and thought “wow, her skin looks like aged leather…” According to Dr. Peter T. Pugliese’s Physiology of the Skin, “at least 90% of the age-associated cosmetic problems (photoaging) of the skin are due to excessive sun exposure.” The other 10% happens merely by getting older.
What happens at the cellular level
OK, let’s get nerdy. We usually think that getting some sun means your skin gets some color. People with fair skin tend to burn and those with darker skin usually tan. Sometimes you burn and then it turns into a tan. But either way, the skin changes color. Did you ever think why? Our skin cells contain melanin and its function is to protect the deeper layers of skin. When our skin is exposed to sun, skin cells produce even more melanin to block the sun’s UV rays from getting to the cell’s nucleus (which contains genetic material and controls the cells growth and reproduction). It’s the increased production of melanin that causes the burn or tan. Isn’t that frightening? To think that our cells inherently know that sun exposure will harm our cells so the melanin takes control to prevent the damage. Unfortunately, they can only do so much which is why daily sunscreen use is so important. Too much sun exposure can cause skin cells to mutate and grow out of control. This is skin cancer.
Skin cancer facts
Skin cancer is the most common cancer with approximately 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year.
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common skin cancers and can be cured if diagnosed early.
Between 40% and 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will have either skin cancer at least once.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. This year, 76,690 new melanomas will be diagnosed.
The rates for melanoma have been rising for the past 30 years.
Melanoma can occur in both younger and older people and though they are highest among those in their 80’s, it is not uncommon for women under 30 to be diagnosed.
If melanoma is diagnosed early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, the survival rate is about 97%. Once the cancer has spread, the survival rate drops to 15%.
Now is the time to stock up on sunscreen
Do’s and don’ts
Avoid direct sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm.
Seek shade and cover up with a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing if you must be outside during the middle of the day.
Wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on your face every day. It can be a moisturizer, foundation or both.
Don’t forget to protect the lips, tops of ears, back of neck, hands & feet.
Use 1 full ounce of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to cover the body when you’re at the pool or beach. That means an 8 ounce bottle will last 8 applications.
Reapply every 2 hours.
Once opened, throw out unused sunscreen after one year. Make sure you label the bottle so you know when it’s time to toss.
Melanoma is a cancer that has unfortunately hit close to home. My sister-in-law, Diane passed away from melanoma over 6 years ago. She was diagnosed at age 36 and fought it for 8 years. Melanoma and skin cancer can happen to anyone. Please take a few minutes to protect your skin. It could save your life.
For more information about skin cancer and melanoma, please visit the American Cancer Society’s website.
Posted in Beauty, Skin care, Sun
Tagged American Cancer Society, basal cell, carcinomas, diagnosed, melanin, melanoma, Peter Pugliese, skin cancer, squamous cell, sun, sunscreen