Skin Cancer Prevention
Because Ultraviolet (UV) sun exposure is linked to the development of skin cancer, protecting yourself from the sun with sunscreen is an important part of skin cancer prevention.
What type of sunscreen should I use?
The best sunscreen is the one that you use. Your sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and be broad-spectrum. This means that it protects from UVA and UVB sunrays, both of which contribute to skin aging and skin cancer. For extra protection, you may wish to consider a super-sunscreen. These are broad-spectrum sunscreens with formulations containing high SPFs and DNA repair enzymes. We know that UV rays damage our skin cell’s DNA. Although we have internal mechanisms to repair this damage, at around age 30, these repair systems begin to break down. As a result, DNA damage accumulates, and this ultimately leads to the development of both pre-skin cancers and skin cancers. Super-sunscreens contain DNA repair enzymes to help boost faltering DNA repair systems. They give added protection that traditional sunscreens simply don’t offer. Learn more about and purchase these products here.
When should I use a sunscreen?
Sunscreens should be worn every day you are outdoors and should be re-applied every two hours. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s rays reach your skin. If exercising or swimming, it is important to re-apply your sunscreen after finishing your workout or coming out of the water. Even “water resistant” sunscreens should be re-applied.
How much sunscreen should I use?
You should use enough sunscreen to generously coat all of your skin that is exposed to the sun. Like any medicine, it is important to use enough sunscreen to get the right “dose.” It takes about one ounce (a shot-glass full) of sunscreen to cover your skin not protected by shorts and a T-shirt. And don’t forget your ears and lips! Find a ChapStick or lip balm with an SPF to make sure your lips are well protected.
What type of sunscreen can I use on my baby?
The best sun protection for babies is to keep them in the shade. Babies have much more sensitive skin than adults that can burn very easily. Sunscreen can be applied to infants over 6 months old and to toddlers. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen made for babies or children with an SPF of 30 or greater.
Are sunscreens safe?
Yes, sunscreens can help prevent sunburn and skin cancer. When used correctly, sunscreens have not been shown to cause toxicity. In some people, sunscreens can cause irritation or rarely an allergic reaction. If you develop a rash after using a sunscreen, stop its use and contact your dermatologist or medical doctor promptly.
Are spray sunscreens safe?
The FDA is currently investigating the risks of accidental inhalation of spray sunscreen. It is recommended that you do not spray these sunscreens around your face or mouth. Because it is difficult to know how much to apply to get the correct “dose,” spray enough to make your skin shiny. You may also spray a second coat to cover any missed spots.
Special clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) can also offer broad-spectrum protection from the sun. The following companies sell UPF clothing online: Coolibar® (www.coolibar.com) and Solumbra® (www.sunprecautions.com). Outdoor companies, such as REI, Columbia, The North Face, and Patagonia also sell UPF clothing. Look for clothing with a UPF of 30 or greater.
Reflection: Certain factors can make UV sun exposure more intense. When at the beach, extra sun protection is necessary because the sun’s rays reflect off both the white sand and the ocean’s water. Similarly, if you are on vacation in a snowy region, rays can reflect off the white snow. As a result, in both of these settings, extra sun protection is necessary to help shield against the more intensely concentrated sun rays.
Elevation: In high-altitude regions, the sun’s UV rays are also more intense. Extra sun protection is advisable in such settings.
Clouds: Contrary to what might be expected, up to 80% of UV rays penetrate clouds to reach your skin. As a result, you should wear sunscreen anytime you are outdoors, even if it is cloudy!
Many people wonder if wake-up with SPF is adequate or if additional sunscreen is needed. If your make-up has an SPF of 30 or greater, it may offer enough protection, but this requires that you apply the make-up thickly. If only a thin layer of make-up is spread over the skin, the SPF dose is diluted. In general, most make-ups have SPFs of 15 or lower, and these do not offer adequate protection. In these cases, we recommended that you apply a layer of sunscreen before applying your make-up. It is also important to remember that SPF numbers are not cumulative. If your make-up foundation has an SPF of 10 and your powder has an SPF of 8, the maximum protection you are getting is 10, not 18. Moreover, sun exposure degrades sunscreen, so even if you apply enough in the morning, you should reapply it every few hours throughout the day. To avoid having to redo your make-up, you may want to invest in a mineral powder. Loose powders that contain sunscreen can be dusted on top of make-up to avoid a heavy, caked-on look.
Diet: Eating a well balanced diet with an abundance of fruits and vegetables is important for your general health but can also help prevent skin cancers. Diets rich in dark green vegetables like brocolli, spinach, and kale as well as citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits contain powerful antioxidants that may reduce the incidence of skin cancer by 50%.
Nicotinamide: A recent scientific study has shown that taking 500 mg of nicotinamide twice daily can reduce the development of both basal and squamous cell skin cancers. Nicotinamide is a derivative of Vitamin B3 that enhances DNA repair and keeps the immune system strong. This can be purchased inexpensively on-line if it is not available at your local pharmacy. It is important to purchase either nicotinamide or niacinamide but not niacin. Niacin is similar but can cause intense facial flushing and discomfort.
Topical repair creams
Over time, the aging process along with environmental stress and sun damage break down the skin’s natural ability to repair and defend itself. Cell turnover slows, and repair of damage declines. As a result, damage accumulates and eventually, this can lead to the development of pre-skin cancers and skin cancers.
Our topical DNA Intensive Renewal and DNA Night Creams contain high levels of DNA repair enzymes. When applied to the skin, these enzymes help repair DNA damage, preventing the development of pre-skin cancers and skin cancers.
DNA Intensive Renewal
DNA Intensive Renewal contains the highest level of DNA Repair Enzymes to target the skin’s natural DNA repair process, counter the effects of aging, and prevent pre-skin cancers.
- Plumps and hydrates the skin.
- Reduces fine lines.
- Replenishes the supply of naturally occurring DNA Repair Enzymes.
- Attacks UV induced damage to diminish and help prevent age or maturity spots and pre-skin cancers.
DNA Night Renewal
This creamy nourishing formula supports cell repair during the sleep cycle and is ideal for stressed skin. Containing high levels of bio-advanced DNA Repair Enzymes, botanicals and extracts, DNA Night Renewal will work while you rest.
- Improves skin elasticity and firmness.
- Rebuilds and fortifies the skin’s lipid barrier.
- Attacks UV induced damage to diminish and help prevent age or maturity spots and pre-skin cancers.
Fractionated laser resurfacing removes skin damage and pre-cancerous cells, helping to prevent pre-skin cancers and skin cancers. These procedures also tighten the skin, even its color, and reduce wrinkling and scars.
Our fractionated Erbium laser removes damaged superficial skin, surface pigmentation, and fine lines. It produces less bulk heat that other resurfacing lasers, which allows your doctor to gently and comfortably eliminate damaged skin layer by layer. It also causes less post-operative redness and swelling, which provides a more rapid healing process for you. In most cases, patients are fully recovered and back to normal activities within 3-5 days depending on the area treated and the energy used. Because the Erbium laser is gentle on the skin, it can be used successfully and safely on darker skin tones.
The fractionated Carbon Dioxide (CO2) laser removes damaged skin and also reduces facial brown spots as well as moderate and deep facial wrinkling. Its microscopic CO2 beams drill holes in skin, which stimulate a wound healing response that produces collagen. This tightens the skin and removes wrinkles and lines. Depending on the location of your treatment and the energy used, topical and injected numbing medication may be used to maximize your comfort. Immediately after your treatment, your skin will feel warm and will be similar in appearance to a deep sunburn. Over the next several days you will follow a gentle washing and moisturizing regimen. As your skin heals, damaged skin will flake off and you will notice improvement in your skin texture and lines that continues for at least 6 months. During your consultation, your doctor will detail pre-operative requirements and review the expected post-operative course.
What exactly is a tan?
A tan is an example of one of your body’s defense mechanisms at work. Your skin is smart. When it senses damaging UV sun rays, your skin cells produce pigment. This pigment acts like an umbrella to help shield the DNA of every skin cell from the destructive rays. When we look at the skin, this pigment shield is what we see as a “tan.” Therefore, no tan caused by UV light is a healthy tan. A tan is a sign that your skin is being damaged. To say a tan is healthy is like saying a cough is healthy after inhaling a plume of smoke!
No UV tanning device is safe. The UV rays coming from these machines are intense, up to 10 times stronger than the rays of noon-time sun. Continued exposure to these rays has been linked to the development of all forms of skin cancer, including malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Treating pre-skin cancers
Treating pre-skin cancers is an important method for preventing skin cancers. Although pre-skin cancers can appear and disappear on the skin, a small number of them do turn into more aggressive skin cancers. These lesions can be treated with liquid nitrogen, topical chemotherapies, or immunotherapies to help prevent them from becoming skin cancers.
Kids and the sun
Most of the sun we receive in life is before the age of 18. Therefore, it is very important to protect children from UV rays when they are outdoors, especially because your child’s skin is more sensitive to the sun. For infants under the age of 6 months, keeping them shaded when outdoors is best. Sunscreens are typically not recommended for this age group. For those over 6 months, choose a broad spectrum with an SPF of at least 30 and which is made for children. Sun protective clothing is also a great option for kids, especially when they are at the beach or pool. Special clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) offers broad-spectrum protection from the sun. The following companies sell UPF clothing online: Coolibar® (www.coolibar.com) and Solumbra® (www.sunprecautions.com). Outdoor companies, such as REI, Columbia, The North Face, and Patagonia also sell UPF clothing. Look for clothing with a UPF of 30 or greater.