Are You Helping Your Clients Avoid Skin Cancer?

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Are You Helping Your Clients Avoid Skin Cancer?

Posted: November 29, 2010

Editor’s note: As a spa professional, you are in a unique position to be able to help clients identify skin cancer. Be sure to make note of any marks that appear odd, according to the information below, and be sure to recommend a visit to the dermatologist if it is in order. Also, it is important to be able to refer clients to a reputable dermatologist if they don’t already have one. One more thing … make sure that clients perform the home skin care checks as advised in this piece.

Skin cancer is a scary subject. “No one wants to think about developing a disfiguring, even deadly, disease, therefore so many Americans live in a state of denial,” says Joshua Fox, MD, a leading dermatologist and medical director of Advanced Dermatology of New York and New Jersey. “Most people know they are supposed to be checking their skin monthly for changes that might be cancer, but they aren’t exactly diligent about it. It’s something that gets put off for later, often indefinitely.”

But skipping the skin scans can be dangerous, says Paige Farkas, MD, a dermatologist specializing in skin cancer screening at Advanced Dermatology. “There have been significant advances in the treatment of skin cancer, including the deadly types, but we know that the front-end things–detection, diagnosis and immediate treatment–are still critical.” In fact, she says, despite the fact that skin cancer is among the simplest types of cancer to identify since it’s visible on the outside of the body, the rates continue to rise. And although nonmelanoma cancers have a relatively good prognosis, melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can quickly become lethal. In fact, new research shows that melanoma cells have a unique ability to override even the healthiest immune system, eventually spreading far beyond the initial site.

The truth is, checking your skin regularly, and making an appointment to have your dermatologist do the same, is the best and only way to catch skin cancer before it spreads. “For the past 25 years, we’ve told people to pay attention to the ABCDs of pigmented skin irregularities,” Fox says. “Asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, and diameter more than 6 mm (about ¼ inch). These are still the key to identifying a problem growth among a bunch of innocuous looking freckles and moles,” he says.

Here are the rules of skin cancer screening. Make sure your clients do these at home.

The Importance of Skin Cancer Checks

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The Importance of Skin Cancer Checks

Head-to-toe skin exams, at home and in your dermatologist’s office, can save your life

Head-to-toe skin exams, at home and in your dermatologist’s office, can save your life

(HealthNewsDigest.com) – Roslyn, NY, November 2010 – Skin cancer is a scary subject. “No one wants to think about developing a disfiguring, even deadly, disease, therefore so many Americans live in a state of denial,” says Joshua Fox, M.D., a leading
dermatologist and medical director of Advanced Dermatology of New York and New Jersey. “Most people know they are supposed to be checking their skin monthly for changes that might be cancer, but they aren’t exactly diligent about it. It’s something that gets put off for later, often indefinitely.”

But skipping the skin scans can be dangerous, says Paige Farkas, M.D., a
dermatologist specializing in skin cancer screening at Advanced Dermatology.
“There have been significant advances in the treatment of skin cancer,
including the deadly types, but we know that the front-end things—detection,
diagnosis and immediate treatment—are still critical.” In fact, she says,
despite the fact that skin cancer is among the simplest types of cancer to
identify since it’s visible on the outside of the body, the rates continue
to rise. And while non-melanoma cancers have a relatively good prognosis,
melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can quickly become lethal. In
fact, new research shows that melanoma cells have a unique ability to
override even the healthiest immune system, eventually spreading far beyond
the initial site.

The truth is, checking your skin regularly, and making an appointment to
have your dermatologist do the same, is the best and only way to catch skin
cancer before it spreads. “For the past twenty-five years, we’ve told people
to pay attention to the ‘ABCDs’ of pigmented skin irregularities,” Dr. Fox
says: “Asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, and diameter more
than 6 mm (about ¼ inch). These are still the key to identifying a problem
growth among a bunch of innocuous looking freckles and moles,” he says.

Here are the rules of skin cancer screening:

Make it a habit to check your skin at home.
Dr. Fox recommends checking yourself, head to toe, once a month. That means
stripping down to your birthday suit and looking over every inch of skin,
even in areas where you’ll need a hand mirror to get a good look. “Many
cases of melanoma and other cancers develop on the scalp,” Dr. Fox says.
“These cancers can be deadly, but unfortunately, most people don’t check the
tops of their heads very often.” Be sure to check the palms of your hands,
your nails, and the soles of your feet, too.

Know what is normal.
In most cases, a normal mole is an even brown, tan, or black color, which
can be either flat or raised, round or oval. Some moles are present at
birth, others develop during childhood or even later in life, especially in
areas that get lots of sun. Once a mole is there, it will most likely stay
the same size, shape and color. Some moles eventually fade and disappear.
“Almost everybody has moles, and almost all of those moles are harmless,”
Dr. Fox says. But people with lots of moles, more than 50, are at a higher
risk for skin cancer.
What’s not normal: Flesh-colored, pearl-like bumps or pinkish or reddish
patches of skin that flake or scale (or even bleed), which can be basal cell
or squamous cell carcinomas.

Pay attention to changes in your skin.
Look for anything new, a new mark, or an old mark that looks different, as
well as any new sensations in or around a freckle or mole. In some cases,
the skin can become crusty or scaly, or start to feel itchy or even sore.
Pay attention to any marks that change in color, size or shape, as well as
marks that just look different from the other marks on your body. “Spots on
the skin come in all shapes and sizes, and not every mark you see will be
cancer,” Dr. Fox says. “But if you see something that really stands out,
what dermatologists call an ‘ugly duckling’, be sure to tell your
dermatologist in a timely manner.”

Find a dermatologist who uses dermatoscopy technology.
Also known as epiluminescence microscopy [ELM], or surface microscopy, this
is a relatively new (and not-too-common) method of screening that’s
extremely effective at identifying cancers, helping the doctor distinguish
malignant lesions from benign ones, says Dr. Farkas, who uses a dermatoscope
in her practice at Advanced Dermatology. “The dermatoscope uses polarized
light and a magnifying lens to let us ‘see’ the skin more clearly,” she
explains. “It significantly increases the accuracy of the exam, meaning we
can detect problems much more reliably than with the naked eye.”

About Dr. Fox: Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D., earned his medical degree
from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He completed an
internship at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, followed by a three-year
dermatology residency at the New York University School of Medicine. A
Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Fox is a leading
authority in the field of dermatology, with an expertise in skin cancer,
cosmetic surgery and laser procedures
(http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com).

About Dr. Farkas: Dr. Paige Farkas is a board certified dermatologist with
experience in all areas of medical, cosmetic and laser dermatology. The
focus of her practice is general and cosmetic dermatology and skin cancer
screening examinations utilizing dermatoscopy technology. Dr. Farkas
received her medical degree at Yeshiva University – Albert Einstein College
of Medicine with distinction in research, and was a member of the Alpha
Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. She completed her residency and served as
chief resident in the Department of Dermatology at Albert Einstein. For many
years, she worked as Clinical Instructor at Montefiore Medical Center, and
supervised medical residents in the Dermatology Department. She has been
Staff Dermatologist at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ since 1993, and
provides outpatient dermatology clinics for the underprivileged in the
community.

MYTHS ABOUT MAKEUP AND SUN PROTECTION

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MYTHS ABOUT MAKEUP AND SUN PROTECTION

Dr. Joshua Fox and Dr. Valerie Goldburt on misconceptions about cosmetics and sun protection

Roslyn, NY, November 2010 – We all agree on sunscreen for a day at the beach. But do we need it for a day at the office? Few women want a glazed sheen when they head to work, but sun protection is still essential. UV rays can penetrate windows and we are also at risk of sun damage when we are out getting lunch or walking to work, rain or shine. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, outnumbering all other cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.

“Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer,” says Dr. Joshua Fox, founder and director of New York-based Advanced Dermatology and the Center for Cosmetic & Laser, OBS.
 
“Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer and there is much that we can do to limit that exposure.” It’s tempting to skip a sunscreen and rely on the SPF of makeup, but is that enough? Or can you just wear moisturizer with sunscreen? Dr. Fox and his colleague Dr. Valerie Goldburt address these questions and other common misconceptions about cosmetics and sun protection.
 
· Is foundation with SPF enough coverage?
Many foundations and pressed powders now contain sunscreen but you’ll need a kabuki mask’s worth to obtain the advertised sun protection. “It would require seven times the amount of foundation you wear to get the full SPF value of the product,” says Dr. Goldburt. “And it would take 14 times the amount of powder.” Foundations with an SPF rating between 8 and 15 will increase your odds for sun protection but should be preceded by sunscreen or sunscreen-containing moisturizer. It’s important to do the math – correctly. “If your foundation and your moisturizer both have SPF 15,” says Dr. Goldburt, “it doesn’t mean you’ve doubled your protection to SPF 30.”
 
· Should I powder my nose?
Yes, because its benefits are twofold:  The tiny pigmented talc particles it contains provide a certain amount of protection on their own, and applying a layer of powder will help your sunscreen and your moisturizer stay put.  “Once sunscreen wears off or is washed away by perspiration or skin oils, it can’t protect you as well,” says Dr. Fox, who recommends compressed powder applied with a sponge.
 
· Can I substitute sunscreen for moisturizer with SPF?
If it’s winter and you will primarily be indoors, a moisturizer that reads “broad-spectrum” with an SPF 15 or higher may be enough. It should list active ingredients such as zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) or ecamsule (Mexoryl), combined with octocrylene and avobenzone. Generally, there is no cost difference between moisturizers with or without sunscreen so the latter is a good investment. However, sometimes a higher SPF sunscreen can be more expensive than ones with lower SPF. Ideally, you should apply an SPF-packed moisturizer followed by sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure.
 
· What are the differences in regulations between plain moisturizers and moisturizers with sunscreen?
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies these products differently,” says Dr. Goldburt. “Moisturizers on their own are considered cosmetics, meaning they are applied with the intent of cleaning, beautifying or changing the appearance of the body.” Because sunscreen ingredients are designed to prevent disease, they are classified as drugs and are subject to a stringent approval process before going on the market. Thus, moisturizers with sunscreen undergo greater scrutiny before they hit the shelves than plain moisturizers.
 
· Will lipstick protect my pucker?
If you slick on lip gloss before hitting the beach, you may as well be putting baby oil on them and lying out in the sun: the gloss will attract UV rays. “Lips get more sun exposure than any other area on the face and they have almost no melanin to protect them,” says Dr. Fox. “The color is derived from tiny blood vessels beneath the skin.” He recommends an opaque lipstick, preferably with an SPF rating of 15 or above. “If you prefer the wet look, apply colored lipstick first and then top it with a gloss for shine.” People who wear lipstick have much lower rates of lip cancer.
 
· Does hair shield my scalp?
“People often forget to protect their scalp and end up with a burn in their part,” says Dr. Goldburt.  “Mist your scalp and hairline with a sun spray specifically for hair. Even better, wear a hat!”
 
· Can mineral makeup minimize UV damage? 
Mineral makeup has become more popular due to its claims of sun protection. This claim is due mostly to the high content of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide — two ingredients commonly found in traditional sunscreen.  These cosmetics are often as pricy as department store brands. However, L’Oreal, Maybelline, and other drugstore brands offer more affordable mineral cosmetics.
 
“Because mineral makeup often eliminates classic irritants like fragrances, dyes, and preservatives, it can be gentler on the skin,” says Dr. Fox.  “But there is no federal or state regulation for what constitutes a mineral makeup, so any product containing minerals as a primary ingredient can be marketed as one, even if it contains synthetic components.”