Confidence Beyond the Skin-How do you know if you have a skin cancer?

Today I am writing a more serious article because of a situation that recently arose with one of my family members.  A few weeks ago, I received an email from my cousin in New York informing me that she had been diagnosed with skin cancer. Here is a photo of my beautiful cousin, Gail!

Her dermatologist found a small Basal Cell Carcinoma on the side of her nose and understandably, she was upset about this diagnosis. She experienced many of the common concerns, wondering what she should do and what this diagnosis meant to her overall health. I tried to reassure her that she will have a small surgery and that everything will be okay. This got me thinking about the different types of skin cancer and how important it is to understand your diagnosis of skin cancer . For example, many people don’t know that skin cancer is the #1 cancer in the US, and that not all skin cancers are created equal. Some skin cancers are relatively easy to cure, while others can be deadly. Because of the different distinctions, many people are confused about the different types of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma-This skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer and typically grows on sun exposed areas of the body, such as the face, neck, and shoulders. Basal Cell Cancers generally look pink and have a pearly or shiny texture. If left untreated, they can scab or ulcerate and start to bleed. When these cancers are diagnosed early, they can be easily treated with a small excisional surgery. If they are growing on delicate areas of the face and neck, Mohs micrographic surgery is the recommended treatment. Mohs Micrographic surgery is a specialized surgery that is designed to remove the skin cancer in tiny layers while leaving as much healthy skin intact as possible. While any skin cancer has a chance to recur, Basal Cell Carcinomas are usually 100% curable when caught early. If left untreated they can lead to serious disfigurement.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma-This is the second most common type of skin cancer. Like Basal Cell Carcinoma’s,  it is common for Squamous Cell Cancers to grow in sun exposed areas. They usually look red, scaly, rough or crusted. They can also bleed. Depending on the size and location, they can be removed with a simple office surgery or Mohs Micrographic surgery. While it is rare, these type of skin cancers do have the potential to metastasize.

 

Melanoma-Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer.  The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. They can arise in an existing mole or a new mole.  If treated early, Melanoma can be cured, but if not treated they can metastasize and become deadly.

I recommend monthly self skin exams in front of a mirror to examine all of your moles. If you see anything new or changing, please see a qualified professional and have it evaluated right away.

 Remember the guidelines for early Melanoma detection;

A-Asymmetry, one side does not mirror the other side

B-Irregular Border, the edges of the mole are jagged and not circular

C- Color, multiple shades of light and dark pigment in a

mole                                                            

D-Diameter, the bigger the mole, the greater the risk. Over 6 mm is considered high risk

E-Evolving, change in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting

It is important to note that sun exposure increases the risk of all skin cancers. Be sure to use sunscreen, sun protective clothing, and seek shade when possible. Make a reminder to yourself to schedule at least a yearly skin exam at the same time as your annual physical or mammogram so that you do not forget to see your dermatologist. If you have a history of pre-cancer or skin cancer, you should be seen more often. If you see anything pink, red, scaly, dark or irregular, schedule an appointment with your dermatology provider as soon as possible. When Skin Cancers are caught early they are usually curable, but those that are ignored can lead to major surgeries, significant health problems, and maybe even death.

Feel free to read more about skin cancer and prevention at www.skincancer.org

  My cousin is recovering after her Mohs Surgery for her Basal Cell Cancer and is doing well.  I am sure she will be even more religious about  sunscreen after her ordeal! 

 I typically like to keep my blog articles light hearted and fun, but this information is important to share. I promise for a more “fun” article next time! How about, “multiple ways to improve your frown lines?”

*Reference http://http://www.skincancer.org//

Check out the new beauty corner of the main newsletter/blog page where I will highlight a different beauty product every month! www.kaseydrapeaudamatopac.wordpress.com

I am always looking for new blog topics or interesting products. Send your  ideas to kasey.drapeaudamato@gmail.com.

I have been asked if I receive any financial incentive to mention products in my newsletter/blog and the answer is no. I only comment on products that I have used myself or that I recommend to patients because they have unique benefits.  However, I am a clinical trainer for both Medicis (Dysport/Restylane) and Allergan (Botox/Juvederm).

For my fellow tech-y followers, I have started  daily skin and lifestyle tweets on Twitter! To stay up to date on the latest, you can follow me @kaseydamatopac . For those Facebook fanatics out there, I have also created a FB fan page! Go ahead and “like” the page to stay up to date on the latest in skin care! http://www.facebook.com/KaseyDrapeauDamato

Confidence Beyond the Skin- Use Sunless Tanners before Valentine’s Day to get a Safe, Sexy Golden Glow!

 Okay, time for another confession…I LOVE sunless tanners! Sometimes I am complimented on my skin, or asked if I have been on a recent vacation and while the real answer is sitting in a bottle on my bathroom counter, I always just reply with a gracious “thank you”.  A girl can’t always give away every secret, right?

Sunless tanners have come a long way since they were invented in the 1920’s.  The active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is  an edible sugar- based molecule. It was invented as a possible sweeteners substitute for diabetic people. It was soon discovered that when the DHA got on the skin, it would temporarily stain it a brown color.  Naturally this effect would be too inconvenient as a sweetener. In the 1950’s, DHA resurfaced as a self tanning cream but was not desirable due to the alien orange color it stained the skin. Now we have better raw materials available that have produced more purified forms of DHA giving the skin a much more natural golden glow.

The DHA ingredient is used in all sunless tanning products and is 100% safe. It does bind to rough skin especially on elbows and knees, so be sure to exfoliate 24 hours before applying a sunless tanner.  Always use petroleum jelly on elbows, knees and hands to prevent too much DHA from being absorbed in those areas. There are different concentrations of DHA, ranging from 3-5%.  Stick with the lower percentage for a light glow or if you have very fair skin. Remember, it can take up to 24 hours to see the final color, so don’t reapply too soon. My good friend Stacey, who is an expert in sunless tanners, gave me a great tip;  if you apply oil-free moisturizer immediately on top of the sunless tanning cream, the final result will be less streaky. That tip has saved me a lot of embarrassment! Here is a picture of the two of us hiking  in St. Barths and showing off  our sunless tans, wearing spf 30 of course!

Sunless tanners come in cream, foam, and spray. You can self- apply, go to a professional spray booth or even have a personal “air brush” session. There are so many great options of sunless tanners on the market today. I like St Tropez, which is available at beauty supply stores. Estee Lauder has developed a sunless tanner with less odor than the traditional sunless tanners, for those of you who oppose the slight odor of other sunless tanners on the market. DHA provides only 3% SPF, so you need an additional sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays. To sustain your tan, avoid Zinc or Titanium Dioxide because they breakdown DHA and will fade your tan unevenly and quickly.

If you are thinking of picking up a little something from Victoria’s Secret for this Valentine’s Day and are worried about looking too pale in front of your spouse or partner, sunless tanners might be a good solution. I will not be expecting a lot of romance for my Valentine’s Day-my husband and I will be spending our holiday with my grandmother in Pompano Beach, FL.  I do plan to apply some sunless tanner before my trip so that I can blend in with all of the elegant 85 year old snow birds!

For those of you who like to travel like I do, check out the fabulous travel and lifestyle blog written by the lovely Firestone Sisters! It is a fun escape to read about all of their travel adventures, and they have beautiful photos too!  http://firestonesisters.com/

Check out the new beauty corner of the main newsletter/blog page where I will highlight a different beauty product every month! www.kaseydrapeaudamatopac.wordpress.com

I am always looking for new blog topics or interesting products. Send your  ideas to kasey.drapeaudamato@gmail.com.

I have been asked if I receive any financial incentive to mention products in my newsletter/blog and the answer is no. I only comment on products that I have used myself or that I recommend to patients because they have unique benefits.  However, I am a clinical trainer for both Medicis (Dysport/Restylane) and Allergan (Botox/Juvederm).

For my fellow tech-y followers, I have started  daily skin and lifestyle tweets on Twitter! To stay up to date on the latest, you can follow me @kaseydamatopac . For those Facebook fanatics out there, I have also created a FB fan page! Go ahead and “like” the page to stay up to date on the latest in skin care! http://www.facebook.com/KaseyDrapeauDamato

*References-Draelos, Zoe MD.”Understanding Self Tanning Preparations” Cosmetic Dermatology, 2011 vol 5 No 4