Saturday, August 2, 2008

Corticosteriods shown to reduce sunburn

Might corticosteroid creams reduce the effect of overexposure to the sun?

A study involved 20 adults who had their backs exposed to ultraviolet rays from a sunlamp. A corticosteroid cream was applied to certain areas of their skin 30 minutes before exposure to the UV rays and to other areas either six hours or 23 hours after exposure; one area of skin was left untreated.

No difference in redness was detected between the areas where the cream was applied after sunlamp exposure and the untreated area. However, skin that was treated before being exposed to the UV rays was less red than skin treated after exposure or not treated.

Burning occurs when exposure to the sun's rays surpasses the ability of the skin pigment melanin to protect the skin from damage.

In everyday use, people generally apply corticosteroid creams after, not before, sun exposure. The study involved a small number of people and did not compare corticosteroid use with other treatments.

The study appears in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Melanoma In African Americans

By Dr. Kenneth Dickie

Misconceptions Lead to Late Diagnosis and High Mortality Rates for this Treatable Condition.

With the incidence of skin cancer on the rise, it has never been more important for the public to practice the prevention and detection steps that are key to avoiding melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Yet in the case of African Americans, detection may be more difficult because studies of African Americans who are diagnosed with melanoma have shown that the condition most often develops on non-sun-exposed areas of the body. This finding along with the misconception that melanoma is not a significant threat for individuals with darker skin, may contribute to the higher rates for this population. Prevention and detection messages about melanoma are not being heeded by African Americans.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is one of the few cancers where the cause is known- overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun and artificial light, like those in a tanning bed.

One reason why African Americans are not overly concerned about melanoma is that most of the skin cancer warning messages are geared toward fair-skinned individuals with blue eyes and blond or red hair who sunburn easily. Also, the incidence of melanoma in African Americans is much lower than in Caucasians due to the additional melanin, or pigment, in the skin. While this pigment offers some sun protection, dark brown or black skin is not a guarantee against melanoma.

However, once African Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, studies have shown that their long-term survival is significantly lower than that of Caucasians, 58.8 percent compared to 84.8 percent. “Melanoma has a 96 percent cure rate when detected early, yet the mortality rate in African American patients remains high and can be directly linked to the advance state of the disease at the time of diagnosis” “ The question is why are African American patients waiting so long to seek treatment?”

When diagnosed, melanoma in African American patients has often spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma in these advanced stages is usually fatal. “It is still unclear if racial differences in melanoma mortality are related to delays in diagnosis and medical treatment, or it is represents inherent differences in the aggressiveness of the disease in the skin of people of color.

Another factor that may prevent African Americans from seeking early treatment is that they usually develop melanoma in locations that differ from those described in conventional detection messages. A recent study showed that while 90 percent of Caucasian patients develop melanoma on skin that is regularly sun-exposed, only 33 percent of African-American patients developed the condition in these areas. In African Americans, melanoma most often develops on non-sun-exposed skin, such as the foot, toenails and the mucous membranes of the mouth, nasal passages or genitals.
Another challenge that may delay treatment is that melanoma of the nails, which peaks in incidence between the ages of 50 and 70 in African Americans, often does not conform to the ABCD rule of pigmented lesions – “A” being asymmetry; “B” being border irregularity; “C” being color variations; and “D” being diameter larger than 6 mm.

“The ABCD rule is the best way to determine if a suspicious mole or spot on the body is changing and requires immediate medical attention.” African American also should examine their nails for some additional symptoms that can signal a serious condition.” These additional factors are most commonly found on the nails of the thumbs or big toes and may include brown or black bands under the nail, and a spot that extends into the nail folds or the skin that supports the nail.

“It is important for Africans Americans and their physicians to know that melanoma can and does occur in people of color, and a greater effort needs to be made to inform these audiences about this potentially life-threatening condition that can be avoided.” “In addition to sun protection, African American should perform regular skin self-examinations that include special emphasis on the feet, hands, nails between the fingers and toes, and on non-sun-exposed areas. If there are any lesion that appear unusual, one should immediately visit their plastic surgeon. If Dr. Dickie feels that the lesion is suspicious, immediate excision can be performed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Raisin in the sun: Gardeners risking skin cancer if they don't take precautions

Perhaps it's fitting that a food product — the seedless grape - was the image picked for a major anti-sunning campaign. Gardeners are among the most at risk for developing skin cancer.
All that weeding and watering, mowing and mulching was once considered a happy way to build a tan. But years of sun exposure can have a terminally dark side.
"A raisin is a grape that didn't have the sense to get out of the sun," The Skin Cancer Foundation says in a new series of public service print ads. "There is no such thing as a safe tan. ... Go with your own glow."
Get the picture, gardeners?
More than a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States, with one in five Americans developing the potentially fatal disorder. An estimated 4,600 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in Canada this year, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics. And the more time spent in the sun, the greater the risk, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The average gardener spends 2.8 hours a week on the hobby, according to Bruce Butterfield, research director for the National Gardening Association.
"Because of increased sun exposure, gardeners and farmers are at higher risk for skin cancer," says Dr. Robin Friedman, a dermatologist from Memphis, Tenn.
Sun avoidance is the best deterrent, although that's not a real-world solution for people whose jobs or activities require them to be outdoors. So here are some practical sun safety suggestions:
-Work in the cool of the day or before 10 a.m and after 4 p.m. Do not discount the solar radiation danger from an obscured sky. "You can get some of the worst sunburns on a cloudy day," Friedman said
-Inspect your skin head-to-toe at least once a month. Remember the shape of mole and freckle patterns and then note any changes. "Examine yourself everywhere," Friedman said. "You can get melanomas on the bottom of your feet, between the toes, on your scalp. Pay particular attention to exposed areas."
-Make a yearly appointment with a dermatologist. Early detection is key, particularly for melanoma, which has a tendency to invade other parts of the body.
-Use a product with SPF 15 or higher. Apply it at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply every two hours.
-Wear sun protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat, loose-fitting smock, trousers, gloves and UV-blocking sunglasses. "This is an excellent option for gardeners," Friedman said. "Such clothing is designed to protect the back of the neck and other areas exposed to the sun while doing all that bending and stretching."
In Australia, where skin cancer is more prevalent than lung cancer, sun-protective clothing is tested and rated by a federal agency, said John Barrow, a transplanted Australian who started the Coolibar clothing line to the United States seven years ago.
"Something like four-or five times as much money is spent on (Ultraviolent Protection Factor-rated) clothing in Australia than on sunscreen," Barrow said. "It's easier to use. Put the smock on or the hat on and you have it done."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Darker skin not immune to damage from sun's rays


For the last three months, Jose Aponte, 32, of Egg Harbor Township, has spent 10 or more hours a day along the Atlantic City boardwalk as part of Massett's Building construction crew. In the 15 years he's worked in construction, he's never once been sunburned.

"For the most part, I stay the way you see me," Aponte said. "I might get a little dark, but it doesn't bother me."

It's easy to attribute Aponte's lack of sunburns and other problems to the color of his skin. People with African, Asian, Latino and Middle Eastern backgrounds have a greater level of protection from the sun thanks to a pigment in the skin called melanin.

"Melanin is the skin's major natural protection against skin damage," said Dr. Isaac Mordecai, a dermatologist affiliated with AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. In people with Irish backgrounds, their lack of melanin leaves them with almost no ability to repair skin damage.

But that extra protection doesn't have all the answers. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, kills more people with skin of color than fair or light-skinned people.

For example, a Washington Cancer Institute study found that more than 32 percent of blacks with melanoma had an advanced stage of the cancer, compared with about 12 percent of whites.

Another study from Duke University showed that the risk of developing skin cancer in a mucocutaneous zone - a place on the body like the lips where nerves are closer to the skin - is more than 10 times greater in blacks than in whites.

"Most of the time, you're going to see it on their lips, palms or the soles of their fingers and toes," said Dr. Anthony Campo, a dermatologist associated with Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point. "They get them in areas that don't affect other people."

While these areas are more commonly affected, people with naturally darker skin have many of the same risks.

Magdi Hassan, 49, of Atlantic City, pushes a rolling chair along the boardwalk. Originally from Egypt, he's used to the sun, but he's starting to get burned from sun exposure. He only uses one form of protection.

"I have my hat," Hassan said, showing his brimmed straw hat he wears while pushing tourists around.

Many people used burned skin as the barometer for whether or not they are protected, but Dr. Susan Taylor, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology and author of "Rx for Brown Skin," said there are four major risks that people with darker skin have beyond getting burned.

First of all, a person can still get skin cancer without getting an accompanying sunburn.

The other risks can cause negative effects in both appearance and health. For example, hyperpigmentation often happens in people with darker skin.

"People often come in and ask me why the skin on their face is darker than the rest of their body," said Taylor. Sun-exposed skin darkens even already dark skin over time. It also often happens when an acne spot heals on dark skin.

But not every darker spot means hyperpigmentation or cancer, and most dermatologists can tell right away whether a patient has a problem, even if they have naturally darker skin.

"Normally, if I see people with darker skin, I see many brown moles and pigmented lesions," said Mordecai. "This pigmentation is normal and most of the time I can reassure them."

The other two risks are advanced aging and a weakened immune system. Langerhan cells - cells found in the skin that protect against harmful bacteria and other foreign bodies - are lost if the sin is exposed to too much sunlight. And wrinkles might only appear later in life.

Self examination is important with everyone, not just people with fair skin. Any changes in the skin can warrant a visit to the dermatologist.

"I don't care what your ancestry is, everyone has to come in for an exam," Taylor said.

Early detection through examination really does make a difference. Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, but an aggressive education campaign has been successful enough that Australians have a lower mortality rate from melanoma than Americans.

With beach season underway, regular applications of high-SPF sunscreens, umbrellas, hats and natural shade are recommended for anybody.

"You can still enjoy the beach," said Taylor. "But go when the sun isn't at it's strongest."

How to Get Rid of Freckles

By Melanie Booker

How to Get Rid of Freckles

While there are several available 'invasive' methods, I would urge you to see your doctor rather than reading an arbitrary web site. Among the more popular medical options are laser freckle removal and the cryogenic freezing of freckles. Over-the-counter bleaching creams are also available.

Freckle Removal & Minimization Tips

* Stay out of the sun whenever possible and wear sunscreen when you do go outside. Your freckles will tan just like the rest of you, causing them to become more obvious.

* Apply lemon juice directly to your face twice a day and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. You can also apply it at night before retiring and wash it off in the morning after rising. This will also increase your sensitivity to sunlight so wear sunscreen when you go out.

* Rinse your face with sour milk.

* Apply sour cream over your entire face, let it sit for 15 minutes and then wipe it off with a towel or tissue, but don't rinse.

* Use a cosmetic cover-up.

Freckle Removal Cream Recipes:

Use the following home remedies by mixing them with yogurt, your favorite cream, or by applying directly to the skin. Most of these concoctions will make you more sensitive to sunlight, so be sure and use sunscreen when you go outside.

* Lemon juice

* Parsley juice

* Onion juice (Or crushed onions) - not a very pleasant solution...

* Cucumber juice (you can also crush a cucumber into paste and use the resulting material)

* Fenugreek oil (Dilute in cream or yogurt)

* A mixture of 2 oz. Lemon juice, 2 oz. rum, 1 tsp. glycerin, and 4 tbsp. buttermilk - let the mixture set on your face for 30 minutes and wash, no more than twice a day.

* A mixture of 1 tbsp. yogurt and a dribble of honey. Apply this directly to your freckles and it let set for 30 minutes before washing.

Want to know more? You can read more tips on How to get rid of Freckles, plus information to get rid of practically anything else that ails you - from bad breath to telemarketers to cellulite - at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Spotting Skin Cancer

Dermatologist warns black patients that disease isn't colorblind


Before Dr. Johnnie Woodson began to remove tiny moles from Rosa Stone's face, the dermatologist reminded his patient that individuals with dark skin are not immune from sun-inducing skin cancer.

Don't buy into the myth, the doctor said, that a person with more melanin, or pigment, in the skin is invincible to the harsh effects of ultraviolet rays.

"That misconception can cause a lot of suffering or worse," Woodson said. "It is true that darker skin means less incidence, but that does not mean there is not a threat of skin cancer."

Outside Woodson's Henderson office Wednesday, there was no relief from the desert sun, pushing the temperature well above 100 degrees, the kind of day that can produce a sunburn in 10 minutes.

During those types of days, Woodson steps up his counseling with all his patients on the use of sunblock with a sunburn protection factor of 30.

Sometimes, Woodson said, he must be even more persuasive with patients of color.

"Most of the skin cancer warning messages and ads are geared only toward fair-skinned individuals, so it makes sense that African-Americans and other dark-skinned individuals aren't as concerned as they should be," Woodson said.

He heads Woodson Dermatology, a medical practice with offices in Las Vegas and Henderson that includes his wife, Dr. Linda Woodson.

"I grew up in inner-city Detroit, and nobody ever talked to me about what the sun can do," Woodson said.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 1 million cases are diagnosed annually, according to the national Skin Cancer Foundation.

Around 2 percent of the cancers involving African-Americans are skin cancers, statistics show. Up to 8 percent of those are melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Woodson noted that more than 95 percent of all melanomas are found in the fair-skinned population.

But he also pointed out that once African-Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, studies have shown that their long-term survival rate is significantly lower than Caucasians: 59 percent to 85 percent.

The fact that African-Americans don't think they can get the disease undoubtedly plays a role in that difference, Woodson said.

"The sooner you get to the doctor with something suspicious on your body, the better off you are when it comes to treatment," the doctor said.

Dr. Mona Gohara, a spokeswoman for the Skin Cancer Foundation, said the time has come in the United States to include dark-skinned individuals in skin cancer warning messages. "Melanoma has a high cure rate (about 96 percent) if detected early," she said in a phone call from her office in Dansbury, Conn. "People need to know that everybody is at risk."

What makes melanomas even more challenging to detect among African-Americans is the fact that more than half the cancers are found on areas of the body that don't get heavy sun exposure, Gohara said.

Often, she said, melanomas are found on the feet and under the toenails. It is unclear, she said, whether the sun or genes, or a combination of both, cause these melanomas.

The reggae singer from Jamaica, Bob Marley, died at age 36 after contracting melanoma in his big toe. The cancer eventually spread throughout his body. Because of his religious beliefs, he did not allow an amputation that could have saved his life.

"No one knows whether the intense sunlight that came from living below the equator or a genetic predisposition caused that," Woodson said. "There is a theory that genes play a large role in melanomas in African-Americans."

Up to 35 percent of the skin cancers contracted by African-Americans are known as basal cell carcinomas, skin cancers that are definitely attributable to the sun. Though rarely fatal, they can be highly disfiguring.

Squamous cell carcinoma is actually the most common form of skin cancer.

It is not linked to the sun, but rather to scarring that can come from burns or ulcers, Gohara said.

After Stone had her moles removed at Woodson's office, she recalled how little she knew about skin cancer while growing up in Cuba.

"We got burned all the time," she said. "We were at the ocean every day. I had a friend who got third-degree burns. We thought that you built up a tolerance to the sun. Now I know to wear sunblock. I make my children wear it.

"Cancer does not discriminate on the basis of race," she said.

Freckles, Carbuncles and Boils

By Charley Hwang

We all heard of acne before but how about freckles, boils and carbuncles. It is not far away from acne problem and some of us do not even know it. Freckles, boils and carbuncles are more like skin disorder that are yucky in certain cases.

I will start off with freckles which it is a brown spot on the skin due to the skin being exposed to the sun. Skins are sensitive to ultra violet rays thus freckles appear on it when we are in the sun for a long time without protection. Freckles are categorized as 6f in the skin disorder chart but it is not consider skin disease. However, there is natural remedy to this disorder. Firstly, Grind yellow mustard in milk and apply to the face during the night, wash your face the next morning. Secondly, Mix an equal quantity of turmeric and sesame seeds, grind in water and apply to the face. Lastly, Make a hole in the watermelon rind and put some grain of rice in it. Take the rice out after a week, grind and apply it to the face.

Boils are the results of bacterial infection of the hair follicles which occurs around areas covered with coarse hairs and also subject to mild repetition of friction. IT looks like a small red but painful nodule, increasing in size for a few days and become soft at the top of the skin discharges pulse. It usually runs its own course after a few weeks which no treatment required but it leaves a scar after healing. When boils are concentrated at the face which is large, antibiotic administration is needed to ensure it does not spread. If the boils appear on the nose or the upper lip, inside of the nose might get inflamed and might be accompanied by fever. There are some remedies that one can follow to reduce the effects of boils. Food intake must be taken care where sour and fatty foods should be avoided. Take watermelon as it cleanses the blood.

Carbuncles are a group of boils that are close together which may form a larger boil with several opening on its surface. Carbuncles are very painful especially in those areas which are close to the underlying tissue such as nose and skin. It strikes young adults which might also indicate a health problem such as diabetic. However, carbuncles are similar to boils which the remedy is also same. In this case, treatment should be administered to ensure the problem does not spread.

In conclusion, these problems might seem like normal pus growth but sometimes we might misinterpret and can be serious. Even worse if the infection goes to the brain and the damage might be unimaginable.

For more information on Freckles, Carbuncles and Boils or visit, a popular website that offers information on Acne Treatments, Acne Solutions, and Acne Medications. Please leave the links intact if you wish to reprint this article. Thanks