Be honest. At least once in your life you found yourself in front of the bathroom mirror with your phone’s flashlight and a magnifying glass, scrutinizing that mole on your shoulder. You were precariously balanced on the counter, wondering if that mole is skin cancer. You are not alone.
With the official summer season in swing, there is no greater time to talk about how to recognize skin cancer. Skin cancer is the “uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
There are six types of skin cancers and pre-cancers. Pre-cancer is when you have abnormal skin cells growing that have caused the appearance of a spot to change. These changes can be size, shape, and color. If you leave a pre-cancerous spot alone, it can develop into skin cancer.
- Actinic Keratosis (Pre-Cancer)- Crusty, scaly growth. This is the most common type of pre-cancer.
- Atypical Moles (Pre-Cancer)- Unusual looking non-cancerous moles. Often runs in families.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma- Open sores, pink patches, shiny bumps, or scars. The most commonly occurring form of skin cancer.
- Melanoma- Black, brown, pink, purple, or white most often resembling a mole. Often multiple hues or shades of colors within the lesion. This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma- Firm, painless lesions or nodules. Rare and aggressive.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma- scaly red patches, open sores, warty growths or elevated growths with a central depression. Second most common skin cancer.
How To Spot It So You Can Stop It
With skin cancer, early prevention and detection are the key. The Skin Cancer Foundation, recommends a monthly head to toe self-exam to recognize any suspicious spots that are new or changing. Skin cancers are almost always curable when found and removed early. Here is what they recommend to be on the alert for:
- A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
- A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
- changes color
- increases in size or thickness
- changes in texture
- is irregular in outline
- is bigger than 6mm or 1/4", the size of a pencil eraser
- appears after age 21
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed
- An open sore that does not heal within three weeks.
If you do come across anything in those guidelines, talk to your doctor immediately. If you are not able to do the self-exam, or are worried about getting it right, you can ask your doctor to do it. It takes about 10mins.
Lastly, spread the word to your loved ones so they can get into the habit of the monthly self-exam, too. Don’t leave out the kids! This is a great habit to teach early on that they can carry the rest of their lives.
If you are looking for the best dermatology care in San Antonio, contact us for more info.
When you hear the words silk peel, what comes to mind may be a type of chemical peel. You will be surprised to know, that silk peel is similar to a typical microdermabrasion procedure, but much more, and we are going to tell you exactly what it is, and how it works.
What is Silk Peel?
Silk Peel is an exfoliation procedure that removes the upper most layers of skin cells. These layers are often the most damaged. The exfoliation device is equipped with a diamond-tipped hand piece (cue Rhianna). The use of diamonds means it can maintain its sharpness for far longer and will not rust, or collect bacteria compared to a metal one. It is also gentler.
As if mentioning diamonds didn’t catch your attention, the silk peel procedure relies on a vacuum-induced system to deliver pore cleansing, and removal of dead skin cells. The vacuum action also pushes pro-infusion solutions deep into the skin where it can have a more profound effect.
Benefits of a Silk Peel:
- Pro-Infusion Solutions- These are delivered deep into the skin for a more profound and lasting effect. Below is a listing of the different types of solutions offered.
- Clarity MD Pore Clarifying Pro-Infusion Solution- With the primary ingredient being salicylic acid, this may be a good choice for those that have acne.
- Vitamin C Skin Hydrating Pro-Infusion Solution- The primary ingredient is Vitamin C and has a variety of healing properties.
- Lumixyl Pro-Infusion Solution-This solution uses the lumixyl peptide as the active ingredient which lightens dark spots by neutralizing a skin enzyme that plays an active role in the production of melanin.
- Skin Hydrating Pro-Infusion Solution- Utilizing hyaluronic acid which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in moisture, it is great for individuals with dry, crepey skin.
- Diamond Tip- Gentleness usually does not require a pre-application of numbing cream compared to a traditional microdermabrasion.
- Plumping Effect- The intense serum/hydration infusion creates a plumping effect that can last up to three days.
For the month of June, Alamo Heights Dermatology is offering patients a free dermaplaning treatment with the purchase of a silk peel.
Book your appointment today! Contact us for more info.
With Ultraviolet Awareness Month coming to an end, and with Summer right around the corner, we want to touch a bit more on sun safety. Ultraviolet radiation exposure is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. Most UV rays mainly come from sunlight, but tanning beds are also a source as well.
Types of UV Rays
- UVA- These rays age skin cells and can damage their DNA.
- UVB- Have slightly more energy than UVA and are the main cause of sun burn.
- UVC- Do not get through our atmosphere, and are not in sunlight.
There are no safe UV rays, but UVA and UVB are the ones that cause skin damage, and cause skin cancer. It is essential to protect your skin when UV rays are the strongest. 10 am to 4 pm is the time frame when they are the strongest, as well as in the Spring and Summer months. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can get through. Let’s take a look at some ways to protect your skin when you are outside.
Slip, Slop, Slap
The American Cancer Society says to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.
- Seek shade- Limit how long you are outside and in direct sunlight.
- Sunscreen- Make sure you are using a broad spectrum sunscreen 30 SPF or higher, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. When applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. We often do not apply enough sunscreen, so it is actually less.
- Wear a Hat- Hats with a 2-3 inch brim all around are ideal.
- Sunglasses-Avoid cosmetic sunglasses, but instead search for sunglasses with Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements”
- Avoid Tanning Beds and Sunlamps- Tanning beds have been linked with Melanoma and give off both UVA and UVB rays. If you want that sun-kissed glow without the cancer risks, try a sunless tanner instead. There are a lot of options from sprays to lotions.
Alamo Heights Dermatology has a wide range of preventative and cosmetic services available for all your skin care needs. If you, or someone you love is interested in learning more about the services we offer, click HERE to learn more.
If your legs look like Casper the friendly ghost when you put on shorts these days, then stay tuned. We are going to be talking about self tanners. May is also Ultraviolet Awareness Month, so there is no time to waste!
Avoiding the Orange
Ok I said it. When most people think of self-tanners, they are worried about turning yellow or blotchy. So we combed the innerwebs for some solid Do’s and Don’ts before and after application to get the best results. Self tanners are a great way to get that “sun kissed” look without exposing your skin for extended periods of time to UVA/UVB rays. Maybe you are like me, and the heat affects your body differently and, so you can only be in it for short periods of time. Whether you have a reason, or you are just curious, here are some tips to help you to take the plunge!
- Exfoliate- This is a MUST before application. You can use a washcloth, but make sure you spend some extra time on those elbows and knees. This removes the dead skin cells for a more even application.
- Dry your skin- Skin must be dry prior to application.
- Apply in sections-Using a circular motion, apply in sections such as arms, legs, torso, etc. This way, if you are using your hands, you can wash after each section to avoid orange hands and nails. There is also an applicator mitt you can buy to help make the application easier and keep those hands from being saturated with the tanner.
- Go light on wrists and ankles- These areas tend to be a lot drier than others, so they will absorb the tanner quicker, making them darker than the rest of your body.
- Wait until skin is dry- Give your skin time to dry at least 10 minutes before getting dressed. Try to avoid tight fitting clothes for the first 3 hours.
- Skip the sunscreen- You still need to apply it. Self tanner is not a sunblock, so you need to apply it every day, and make sure it is SPF 30 or higher, is water resistant, and broad-spectrum UVA/UVB.
- Rush- Research the right brands for you and tones. If you have a special event you are wanting to do the tanner for, try to do it in advance. Rushing can lead to missed steps and undesired results.
- Be afraid- There are foams, there are creams, there are sprays. So many option can be intimidating, but with a little patience, you can find a great option.
Now that we have loaded you down with some tools for your self-tanner journey, we hope you feel a little bit better about taking the plunge towards a healthier bronzed glow.
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