Do you use protection?
May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Being part of a Dermatology clinic team with a motto of “specializing in skin cancer while providing comprehensive skin care”, I asked Nina if I could write a blog about sun protection. This will not be as cool as some of Nina’s sun smart blogs where she shows pictures of herself in her bikinis and entertains all of us but I will try my best to educate you.
Being sunSMART means so much more than choosing a sunblock. It includes avoiding the peak hours between 10 AM and 4 PM, seeking shade, and wearing sun protective clothing including a sun hat and sunglasses. Most people however are understandably confused about choosing which sunblock to use. The simple answer is that the best sun block is the one that you use daily and will reapply every 2 hours. I have 3 favorite sunblocks. I use TD&R daily because it protects against UVA, UVB and infrared while repairing my skin. I frequently reapply either BOB or Colorscience brush because they are mineral based and easy to apply without getting my hands dirty—this is my favorite before I go outside to watch the kids play sports or before I work or run outside. My third is a sunblock spray that I use on exposed skin while I will be outside.
Now the longer answer—Sunscreens are considered over the counter products and are regulated by the FDA. The FDA last updated their position on sunscreens in 2014 with the Sunscreen Innovation Act. In February 2019, The FDA proposed new regulations for OTC sunscreens in the US. They are addressing vehicles of sunscreens including wipes, towelettes, shampoos, etc. They are improving transparency in labelling also. The active ingredients will need to be listed on the front of the package. The maximum allowable SPF will be increased from 50+ to 60+. A skin cancer/skin aging alert for sunscreens that have not been shown to help prevent skin cancer will have an alert on the front of the package. It should be clearer to see the SPF, broad spectrum and water-resitant claims. They are encouraging all sunblocks to be broad spectrum—blocking at least both UVA and UVB.
One of the aspects that I am happy about is that the FDA is really looking at ingredients. The FDA considers ingredients GRASE if they have been studied and are considered “generally recognized as safe or effective”. The FDA ruled that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe and effective (something we have been preaching for years because these ingredients are physical not chemical sunblocks). They stated that PABA (P-aminobenzoic acid) and trolamine salicylate are not GRASE or safe. They have requested additional testing for many chemical blockers including avobenzone, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octrocrylene, octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone, padimate O, and sulisobenzone.
Researchers are spending more time and energy addressing infrared light, visible light and blue light (the visible light that is emitted from computers and devices such as cell phones). For more information, you may go to the AAD website that reviews the ABCs of sunscreens: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
The AAD also advises every person with skin to have a full body skin examination by a dermatologist every year as well as every person do a self-exam every month to notice any new or changing spots—stop the spot early. This regular surveillance will help detect any potential skin cancers early. Here are some PSAs from the AAD to educate about skin cancer. https://www.aad.org/media/public-service-advertisements Every May since we opened, we offer at least one free skin cancer screening at the Reynolds Cancer Support House. For more information, you may visit their website (although it has not been updated for this year’s screening which is Monday May 20. https://reynoldscancersupporthouse.org/sun-s-m-a-r-t/
Drs Brad Johnson and Dr Nelson are two skintastic skin surgeons (in my opinion). They both offer Mohs micrographic surgery as well as other treatments for skin cancer. If you do have a skin cancer, it is important to have it treated appropriately. They have treated more than 20,000 patients last year with skin cancer. They work with a great team of surgical techs and histotechs to make sure to get the entire cancer and the best cosmetic outcome. You may peruse our website to learn more information. https://johnsondermatology.com/mohs/
May Melanoma Awareness Challenge:
During the month of May—Melanoma Awareness Month, the JD team challenges you to help us raise awareness of melanoma and being sun SMART. We will be giving random prizes to people who help spread the message. We encourage you to use the hashtags #melanoma #realJDpatient #sunSMART to help us promote your post and possibly send you a prize. Some ideas include
1. Post a picture or video of you or others being sunSMART
2. Post a video of you applying the recommended amount of a shot glass of sunblock as fast as possible..to show it does not take long to apply sun protection
3. Share your skin cancer experience
4. Share your favorite sunSMART products
5. Share our sunSMART posts
6. Be creative—remember to tag us with #melanoma #realJDpatient or #sunSMART
Let us all have fun together while empowering each other to be sunSMART. After all, friends don’t let friends tan
As appreciation for being able to write this blog, here is a picture of our family from a few summers ago in our swim clothes.