Sunscreen & Skin Cancer
I’m heading to the dermatologists office today to have a pre-cancerous spot on my face removed and wanted to show you a picture of it so you can see that some suspicious lesions don’t fall into the norm of what you expect them to look like. And, as always, I want to urge everyone to use sunscreen every day. My little spot is called an “actinic kertosis”. An actinic keratosis (ak-TIN-ik ker-uh-TOE-sis) is a rough, scaly patch on your skin that develops from years of exposure to the sun. It’s most commonly found on your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp or neck — areas of skin typically exposed to the sun. If left untreated, it can turn into a squamous cell carcinoma. My doctor said there’s only a 2% chance of it developing into skin cancer, but just hearing the words skin and cancer regarding a patch on my face was scary! She removed it with a spray of liquid nitrogen and I should be all set. Since it didn’t meet the standard definition of what skin cancer looks like, I didn’t have it looked at for 9 months thinking it was just a pimple at first, then a patch of dry skin. So, I just wanted to make you aware that if you have anything new or different on your skin that doesn’t go away on it’s own in a month, you should have it checked by a dermatologist. You should also schedule your yearly whole body scan now if you haven’t done it in a while. The best way to avoid skin cancer is to stay out of the sun, or to be protected when you are in the sun even for a little while. Current recommendations are to wear a broad spectrum sunblock every day on your exposed areas of skin (face, neck, chest, hands). It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, or if it’s raining, or if you’re not going outside that day. UV radiation (sunlight) comes through clouds, windows, and especially car windows and sun roofs. You can use an spf 15 in winter, or indoors, but you should bump up to at least an spf of 30 for any exposure longer than “incidental”. Here are my favorite broad spectrum sunscreens (to qualify as a favorite, they have to be spf 30 minimum, broad spectrum, with a clear matte finish and no detectable scent. ): Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid, spf 70: This is a chemical sunblock that uses Avobenzone, which is an excellent broad spectrum block. If you’re allergic to chemical sunblock, or using mineral liquid foundation, this formulation will not work for you. Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion, spf 30: This is another moisturizer with physical sunblock that utilizes a combination of minerals like zinc oxide for sun protection. This is great to simplify your morning routine and protect from casual sun exposure. Clarins UV Plus HP Daily Screen High Protection Tint, spf 40: This is a tinted sunblock with physical ingredients for sun protection. You can use this instead of makeup on no makeup days as your final step. It evens out skin tone and covers minor discolorations.
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