Skin care and aging – Part 2

By Teresa Carr

administrative assistant

From the National Institute on Aging – Skin Care and Aging Part 2

Wrinkles – Over time the skin begins to wrinkle. Environmental elements, such as ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun, can make the skin less elastic. Gravity can cause skin to sag and wrinkle. Certain habits, such as smoking, can also wrinkle the skin.

Many claims are made about how to make wrinkles disappear. Most of them don’t work. Some methods can be painful or even dangerous, and many must be performed by a doctor. Talk to a doctor specially trained in skin problems, called a dermatologist, or your primary care physician if you are concerned about wrinkles.

Skin cancer – Skin cancer is a very common type of cancer in the United States. The main cause of skin cancer is the sun. Sunlamps and tanning booths can also cause skin cancer. Anyone of any skin color can get skin cancer. Fair-skinned people who freckle easily are most at risk. Skin cancer can be cured if caught before it spreads to other parts of the body.

There are three types of skin cancer. Two types, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body. These types of cancer are usually found on the parts of the skin most often exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, hands and arms. But they can occur anywhere on your body. The third and most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma. It is rarer than the other types, but it can spread to other organs and be fatal. Check your skin once a month for things that may be signs of cancer.

Skin cancer is rarely painful. Look for changes such as new growth, a sore that won’t heal, or a bleeding mole. Check moles, birthmarks or other parts of the skin for “ABCDE”

A = Asymmetry (one half of the growth looks different from the other half)

B = Jagged edges

C = Color changes or more than one color

D = Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser

E = scalable; this means the growth changes in size, shape, symptoms (itching, tenderness), area (especially bleeding), or color shades

See your doctor right away if you have any of these signs to make sure it’s not skin cancer.

Keep your skin healthy – A little sun can be good for you, but to keep your skin healthy, be careful:

■ Limit the time spent in the sun. You can go out during the day, but try to avoid being in the sun during peak hours when the sun’s rays are strongest. For example, during the summer, try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Don’t be fooled by cloudy skies. The sun’s rays can pass through clouds. You can also get sunburned if you’re in the water, so be careful when you’re in a pool, lake, or the ocean.

■ Use sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. It is best to choose sunscreens with “broad spectrum” on the label. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours. You should put on sunscreen more often if you’re swimming, sweating, or rubbing your skin with a towel.

■ Wear protective clothing. A wide-brimmed hat can protect your neck, ears, eyes and head. Look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of the sun’s rays. If you must be in the sun, wear loose, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or long skirts.

■ Avoid tanning. Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds. Tanning pills are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may not be safe. Your skin can change as you age. But remember, there are things you can do to help. Check your skin often. If you notice any changes that worry you, see your doctor.

Just a thought: “I learned a long time ago that successful people rarely sit down and let things happen to them. They went out and got things done. ~ Leonardo da Vinci