This Winter, Don’t Forget Sunscreen

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This Winter, Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Though you might not think about SPF in winter months, sun protection is important year round.

By Amanda Koehler

You may be thinking more about moisturizing your skin this season.

The CDC has also found over 100 million Americans experience some degree of sunburn annually, either by not properly applying sunscreen or not using it at all.

But even though the sandals and bathing suit are packed away, sunscreen should stay well in reach. In fact, it is always the season for sunscreen, even though most of our skin is under layers of clothes in the winter months.

And even though we know better, studies show we often overlook taking simple steps when in the sun: using protective clothing, applying sunscreen and avoiding direct sun exposure. The New Age Skin Research Foundation conducted a study and found many melanoma patients were aware of the sun’s effects and dangers, but few took these protective steps–until after they were diagnosed with skin cancer.

Sunscreen Facts and Myths
The consequences of ignoring the dangers of the sun can be dire. More than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 132,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Melanoma is responsible for more than 8,500 skin cancer deaths annually; this number has been on the rise over the past decade in large part due to unprotected sun exposure, the AAD says.

Surprisingly, the motivating factor for putting on sunscreen isn’t these humbling statistics, however. When counseling his patients, Joshua Fox, MD, plays up the effects of the sun on skin aging as opposed to the cancer risk. People are more concerned with wrinkles and sunspots, says Dr. Fox, a New York dermatologist, founder and medical director of Advanced Dermatology, PC and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery.

“If you’re under 40, you probably don’t know anyone who has skin cancer and it’s nothing you can relate to,” explains Dr. Fox, who is also the president of The New Age Skin Research Foundation. “But you do see people with wrinkled skin.”

Interestingly, sunscreen isn’t the only precaution you should be taking to protect yourself.

“A lot of people think just putting sunscreen on is just like Superman changing into his cape-they think they will be totally immune to the effect of ultraviolet (UV) light,” says dermatologist Clay Cockerell, MD, clinical professor of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; and former president of the AAD. “Sunscreen does block a significant part of UV rays, but not 100 percent.

During the winter, remember to put sunscreen on all exposed areas, even if you are just going out to play in the snow or ski. You may be wearing a scarf, gloves and a snowsuit, but your exposed face is still subjected to UV rays. Even though there is less direct sunlight in the winter, there is still a chance to get burned-especially since snow reflects light.

Another recent myth about sunscreen is that if you wear it, you will block out the beneficial vitamin D you obtain from the sunlight. This is false, according to Dr. Cockerell. Between five and 10 minutes in the sun a few times a week will give you all the vitamin D you need, Dr. Cockerell contends. You can always take vitamin D supplements or add foods containing vitamin D to your diet as well. “We have an epidemic of skin cancer on our hands, not of vitamin D-related rickets,” he adds.

Finding Your SPF
At the least, consumers should wear an SPF of 15. Those with fair skin should wear an SPF of 30 or higher, Dr. Cockerell says. New sunscreens on the market even go as high as an SPF of 85 or 90. “If you’re compulsive, have sensitive skin or have had skin cancer, those are good for you,” Dr. Cockerell tells ADVANCE.

People can be allergic to types of sunscreen, including those made of organic compounds. Instead of forgoing sunscreen all together, they can try sunscreens made of inorganic compounds, such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide.

Dr. Fox suggests putting your sunscreen right next to your toothbrush so you remember to put it on every morning when you brush your teeth. Check as well for moisturizers with sunscreen included, especially if you are concerned with wrinkles. These steps can help you look good, as well as stay healthy-no matter the motivation.

Amanda Koehler is an associate editor at ADVANCE.

Dimming the Shine on Oily Skin

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Dimming the Shine on Oily Skin
Leading Dermatologist on reducing oil, helping skin feel fresh and young

Roslyn, New York, December 2009 – Most participants in a recent series of American and German focus groups said their oily facial skin was both emotionally and socially disruptive, making them feel unattractive, self conscious, embarrassed, irritated and frustrated. The results of the focus group study were reported in the October 2008 of Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.

Up to 75 percent of teenagers and many older adults say they have oily skin, a common condition affecting both men and women, typically between puberty and about 60 years of age. But despite its prevalence, says Joshua Fox, M.D., a leading dermatologist, founder of Advanced Dermatology PC, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, “oily skin can usually be managed by adding just a few simple steps to one’s daily skincare regimen.”
 
According to the National Institutes of Health, genetics and hormones are the key factors contributing to oily skin. “The good news,” Dr. Fox says, “is that despite popular opinion, diet has little, if anything, to do with whether or not you have oily skin.” He explains that in oily skin, the sebaceous glands, located deep within the skin, produce too much oil, especially on the face, neck, chest, head and back. “While some oil is needed for the health of your skin and hair, too much oil can make skin and hair look greasy and dirty; it makes pores look large, and promotes pimples, blackheads and other blemishes.”

“Oil production can be stimulated by hormones, so anything that causes hormones to fluctuate can cause skin to become more oily,” Dr. Fox says, adding that for women, that means that more oil tends to be produced during puberty, at the start of each menstrual cycle and during pregnancy and perimenopause.  In addition, oil production in men or women can be stimulated by any physical or emotional situation that causes hormone swings.

“Separately, humidity, hot weather, sun, exercise and other environmental conditions, and even some cosmetics, can make things worse,” he says.  Dr. Fox says there are several basic steps people with oily skin should do daily to help reduce the shine, grease and discomfort caused by oily skin.

1.     “Make sure to keep your skin clean. Dr. Fox recommends using warm water and gentle soap or a non-soap cleanser no more than twice a day.
Use only water-based or oil-free cosmetics (noncomidogenic)
3.     Use only products designed for oily skin.
4.     Consider using different cleansers during the summer and winter. Hot, humid weather requires a heavier cleanser, while cool dry air calls for a moisturizing product.
5.     Consider prescription and non prescription astringents, face washes, masks and other degreasing agents which can help.

If these simple steps don’t provide the results you seek, Dr. Fox suggests using a glycolic or salicylic acid product with a light oil-free moisturizer containing a sunscreen. “For even more dramatic results, anyone suffering from oily skin should visit his or her dermatologist, who knows their specific skin and its challenges and can create a personalized skincare plan to reduce oil and maintain healthy-looking skin,” Dr. Fox says.  “A dermatologist can also offer you topical or oral prescription treatments such as Retin A, Differin, Tazorac, Benzoyl Peroxide or Accutane that help reduce the oil or can provide laser treatments for especially stubborn oily skin which shrinks the sebaceous glands.”

Red Dots on Skin: 19 Causes, Some Serious

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Red Dots on Skin: 19 Causes, Some Serious
December 07, 2009 by Jillita Horton

Red dots on the skin usually don’t mean cancer – usually. But you should get acquainted with your skin and what is normal for it versus not normal, so that if you start seeing reddish dots, you’ll know whether to immediately see a doctor, or just relax and not worry.

I asked Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D., Director and Founding Physician of Advanced Dermatology, PC, about what could possibly cause red dots on the skin. Many things can cause this, and some of those causes are cancer.
 
Dr. Fox says that red dots have many causes from a variety of skin conditions. Here is a list of the most common:

– Red bumps – can be pus-filled over the face, chest and back: Acne

– Reddish raised flat sores: allergic reaction, irritant or allergic contact dermatitis, herpes, malaria, heat rash

– Reddish dome-shaped bumps, appears sprinkled randomly and itchy: insect bites

– Small red dot, larger or bruise-like spots that appear after taking a medicine: allergic purpura

– Red, raised strawberry like appearance: hemangiomas (scary-sounding name, but very harmless; also called angiomas)

Other causes:

– Reddish & flushed appearance around cheeks, chin, forehead and nose: rosacea

– Red, itchy rash that affects the groin area: jock itch, yeast infection, diaper rash in infants

– Expanding, red and slightly itchy rashes over the chest and abdomen: pityriasis rosea

– Scattered pink and red dots when a patient is feeling under the weather: viral infection.

When it means skin cancer:

– Red, scaly, crusted unusual growth on the lip, chin or anywhere on the face: squamous or basal cell carcinoma

– Reddish, irregular shape and colors: amelanoticmelanoma

– Reddish, purplish, dark or black raised spots anywhere that keep growing: Kaposi’s sarcoma

– Rarely a skin cancer can present as this: molluscum