Sunless tanning: a safe and healthy alternative to tanning booths
If you’re wondering if it’s possible to safely tan in the sunlight, you might be worried about exposure to the sun’s damaging rays, but still want that sun-kissed glow. Consider striking a compromise with sunless tanning products. There’s a better way to get that golden glow. Bronzers and sunless tanners are safer and faster and can achieve results that are just as beautiful as the real deal. Sunless tanning products generally fall into two categories: cosmetic bronzers that wash off like regular makeup and sunless tanners that actually stain the skin and fade as skin cells slough off.
Sunless tanning products are commonly sold as creams, gels, lotions and sprays that can be applied to the skin. Professional spray-on tanning also is available at many salons, spas and tanning businesses. The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When applied to the skin, DHA reacts with dead cells in the outermost layer of skin to temporarily darken the skin’s appearance. The coloring does not wash off, but it gradually fades as the dead skin cells slough off, typically within a few days.
Topical sunless tanning products are generally considered safe alternatives to sunbathing, as long as they are used as directed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved DHA for external application to the skin. However, the FDA has not approved the use of DHA for application to areas near the eyes, mouth or nose. If using a sunless tanning cream, it is easy to avoid these areas. Primary concerns about self-tanning sprays relate to the risk of inhalation and ingestion, which is not recommended.
Dermatologists now steer their patients toward these products if they want more color on their skin. Sunless tanning products, also called self-tanners, can give skin a “sun-kissed glow” without exposing it to harmful, cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun or tanning booths. According to the American Cancer Society, most of the more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year in the U.S. are considered sun-related.
Why should I wear sunscreen every day?
Although dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen every day, most people do not follow this advice. It is recommended that a person should apply some sort of SPF face lotion before applying any face makeup even if the foundation being worn has a SPF already in it.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that SPF should be 15 or higher and be reapplied every two hours. Most bottles recommend applying liberally and applying it all over the face, ears, neck and arms. The SPF value indicates the level of sunburn protection provided by the sunscreen product. The SPF test measures the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure it takes to cause sunburn when a person is using a sunscreen in comparison to how much UV exposure it takes to cause a sunburn when they do not use a sunscreen.
When choosing a sunscreen the American Cancer Society recommends that you read the label before buying: “Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.”
Many people, especially younger men and women, do not realize the skin-damaging effects the sun can have. The ugly head of sun damage does not rear its head till people are much older and by then the effects cannot be reversed. Sun damage can lead to more than just prematurely aged skin, it can lead to skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with two million people being diagnosed annually. There are two kinds of skin cancers, non-melanoma and melanoma. Non-melanoma, which is the most common form, has about 1.3 million cases each year in the United States. On the other hand, melanoma, which is the least common accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Sun is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. Applying a sunscreen daily is a small step that will make a dramatic difference in a person’s skin health in the long run.
UV radiation, whether from natural or artificial sources, causes significant damage to the skin. Below are some of the short and long term side effects of UV exposure associated with tanning:
Why is tanning linked to skin cancer?
The most serious side effect of tanning is the increased risk of skin cancer. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is often fatal. Non-melanoma skin cancers are not usually fatal but should not be taken lightly.
Melanoma is the less common, but more dangerous form of skin cancer, and accounts for most of the deaths due to skin cancer each year. Melanoma is cancer that begins in the epidermal cells that produce melanin. According to the American Cancer Society melanoma is almost always curable when detected in its early stages.
Non-melanomas occur in the basal or squamous cells located at the base of the epidermis, both inside and outside the body. Non-melanomas often develop in sun-exposed areas of the body, including the face, ears, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands.
Predisposition to skin cancer can be hereditary, meaning it is passed through the generations of a family through genes. There is also strong evidence suggesting that exposure to UV rays, both UVA and UVB, can cause skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, most of the more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year in the U.S. are considered sun-related. Skin cancer occurs in people of all skin tones, though it is less common in those with darker skin tones. Assessing a person’s risk with the help of a dermatologist, protecting the skin, and performing regular skin cancer checks are the best methods of prevention.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. Skin cancer occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. It is most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. There are two major types of skin cancer — keratinocyte cancers (basal and squamous cell skin cancers) and melanoma.
Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the most common cancers of the skin. Both are found mainly on parts of the body exposed to the sun, such as the head and neck. These cancers are strongly related to the amount of sun exposure a person has had. Basal and squamous cell cancers are less likely than melanomas to spread to other parts of the body and become life threatening. However, if left untreated, they can grow larger and invade nearby tissues and organs, causing scarring, deformity, or even loss of function in some parts of the body.
Melanomas are cancers that develop from melanocytes, the cells that make the brown pigment that gives skin its color. Melanocytes can also form benign (non-cancerous) growths called moles. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, but are more likely to start in certain locations. The chest and back are the most common sites in men. In women, the legs, neck, and face are other common places for melanoma to start. Most cases of melanoma are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Melanomas are not as common as basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but they can be far more serious. Like basal cell and squamous cell cancers, melanoma is almost always curable in its early stages. However, if left alone, melanoma is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body, where it can be very hard to treat.
It is possible to find skin cancer early because this cancer is visible. The first sign may be a slowly growing bump, a changing mole, or a dry and scaly rough patch. When treated before it spreads, most skin cancers can be cured. The key to finding skin cancer early is to know your skin. If you notice a spot or lump that is growing, bleeding, or changing, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist.
Sun is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. There are several things that people can do to protect themselves from the sun. Finding melanoma early is absolutely crucial because when treated early melanoma is almost 100% curable. To find melanoma early it is important that the skin is checked regularly for signs of skin cancer.
Tips for preventing melanoma
Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the skin and is one of the few cancers that is visible to the naked eye. Dermatologists recommend you examine your body, front and back with arms raised in the mirror. A hand mirror can be used to check arms, back of legs, neck, scalp, genitals and buttocks. The freckles, moles, and age spots that are seen should be noted during each exam looking for any changes in shape, size and color. Melanoma can appear under finger or toe nails. Beneath a nail, the most common early warning sign of melanoma is a brown- to black-colored nail streak. Another early warning sign is a spot that looks like a bruise. The bruise may fade and then come back. If a mole is noticed that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds (even if it is small), an appointment with a dermatologist should be made. If you are in the Dallas, Sunnyvale or Rockwall area, book an appointment with our physician.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can affect anyone. When found early and treated, the cure rate is nearly 100%. However, if allowed to grow, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body quickly. When melanoma spreads, it can be deadly.
Dermatologists believe that the number of deaths from melanoma would be much lower if people knew the warning signs of melanoma and examined their skin for signs of cancer. When checking moles on the skin, a person should look for the ABCDEs of melanoma.
What are the symptoms of melanoma?
A = Asymmetry: One half is unlike the other half
B = Border: An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
C = Color: Varies from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes red, white or blue
D = Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but can be smaller
E = Evolving: Mole or skin lesion looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color
Anyone can get melanoma but there are some people that are at higher risk. These include people with the following traits:
Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing. Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer. The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50. Melanoma is now the most common cancer among people 25-29 years old.
It is believed that knowing the signs of melanoma and checking the skin frequently will increase the likelihood of catching melanoma before it spreads and becomes more dangerous. Contact us to set up your appointment for a skin cancer screening.
Rise in melanoma in young adults
The risk of developing the most dangerous type of skin cancer, melanoma, is now more than six times higher among young adults than it was 40 years ago, and women may be especially vulnerable. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers in people under 30. Before the age of 40, the risk is higher for women; after the age of 40 the risk is higher in men.
A new study shows the number of melanomas found among women under 40 years old increased by more than eightfold between the 1970s and 2000s. Cases of melanoma among men under 40 also increased by more than fourfold during the same time period. The findings are alarming, considering the rates of many other types of cancers are declining.
Who is at risk for melanoma?
Researchers say women may be hardest hit by melanoma because they are more likely to participate in activities that increase the risk of melanoma, such as using tanning beds or outside sun tanning.
Researchers say the best way to reduce the risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer is to limit exposure to ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds or the sun. People with high levels of UV exposure from these sources are at greater risk for all types of skin cancer. The amount of UV exposure a person gets depends on the strength of the light, how long the skin is exposed, and whether the skin is covered with clothing or sunscreen.
Some of George Wooming, M.D.’s suggested ways to protect skin and reduce the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers include:
George Wooming, M.D. offers tips to stay safe in the sun
As summer is rapidly approaching, it’s time to consider skin care and safety while having fun in the sun. May is Melanoma awareness month, what better time to review the ABCDE’s of doing a self skin exam?
The ABCDE’s of a self skin exam
“A” is for asymmetry; do both halves look the same? “B” is for border; is the mole irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined? “C” stands for color; is the mole varied from one spot to another with various shades? “D” is for diameter of the mole; is the width of the mole larger than a pencil eraser? Lastly, “E” stands for evolving over time; is the mole growing, darkening, or otherwise changing?
Make an appointment with George Wooming, M.D. if you notice any of these characteristics in a mole or freckle, and for yearly skin cancer screenings. In the meantime, find the shade when you can, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 at least) with reapplications after 80 minutes or water exposure.
Dermatologists say there are many benefits of using sunscreen
Sunscreens have significantly developed over the years and have been proven to help reduce the risk of skin cancers. While sunscreen is on the skin it stops the UV rays before it penetrates the skin and inflicts damage. These rays are absorbed, scattered and reflected away from the skin. The use of sunscreen also acts as a moisturizer and can help regulate the natural state of the skin and reduces premature aging.
Best sunscreens for sensitive skin
1. Neutrogena. Neutrogena has a Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum with an SPF level of 60+. This lotion has blend of natural sunscreens like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which is fragrance-free, oil-free and hypoallergenic; all great for sensitive skin.
2. Vanicream. This sunscreen also contains zinc oxide and has an SPF level of 60+. Antioxidants are in this cream that helps with premature aging.
3. Blue Lizard. This Australian sunscreen is highly recommended by dermatologists because it is fragrance-free and has a formula that uses zinc oxide and titanium oxide. This lotion requires a bit more effort to rub in but it sticks to the skin much more closely.
Summer is rapidly approaching. Consult with our physician to find out what sunscreen is the best for you. George Wooming, M.D. is here to serve the Dallas area and help them have healthy and beautiful skin.
George Wooming, M.D.’s top 5 things you can do to prevent skin cancer
What types of skin cancers are there?
Skin cancer is mostly caused from too much sun exposure and the use of tanning beds. Dermatologists have determined three main types of skin cancer.
1. Basal cell carcinoma. This particular skin cancer is the least dangerous and is the most common. This stems from the lowest layer of the skin and can appear translucent and sometimes become an ulcer.
2. Squamous cell carcinoma. The level of cancer is a bit more dangerous and can become fatal if left untreated. Squamous stems from the middle layer of the skin and is less common. Aesthetically it looks like a red, crusted, or scaly bump on the skin. Many times it can be a tumor that grows quickly.
3. Malignant melanoma. This is the most severe case of skin cancer, yet the most uncommon. If not treated, this cancer will spread and become fatal. Originates from the pigment-producing cells. It appears on the skin in various colors and in irregular patterns.
Top 5 things you can do to prevent skin cancer
The health of your skin should be taken serious since it is the largest organ and is exposed to many different elements. Dermatologists suggest these tips to help you take care of your skin.
1. Stay out of tanning salons. The use of tanning beds has become a popular thing to do to get a nice glowing summer tan. However they are very dangerous. The lights in the beds are 2-5 times stronger than the natural sunlight. The UVA radiation in these lights cause sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer.
2. Monitor your sun exposure. The sun’s UV rays are at its peak between 11AM and 4PM. The shorter your shadow is the harsher the sun is for your skin.
3. Seek shade. If you must be outside look for shade to stand under. You may want to wear a hat will a large brim or bill to shade you face. Wearing long sleeves and pants will help protect your skin while exposed to the sun. Another thing to remember – just because its cloudy does not mean you are protected from the sun’s rays. About 80% of the rays can penetrate through the clouds.
4. Use sunscreen. The more you apply sunscreen the better. Apply a thick coat about 15-30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours while in the sun.
5. Beware of reflections. Be cautious of things that can reflect the sun’s rays. Things like water, sand, snow and concrete can reflect about 80% of the damaging rays.
With summer approaching, the people of Dallas will be heading out to Lake Ray Hubbard for some fun – remember to limit yourself to the sun and lather yourself with sunscreen. George Wooming, M.D is here to help you protect yourself.