Educating Clients on Skin Cancer
Shielding the skin from damaging UV rays is important year round, particularly so during the summer months, since we tend to spend more time outdoors. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and a good time to refresh your client’s knowledge on protection and detection.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. It’s estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. If developing cancer isn’t fuel enough to protect the skin, remember that 90 percent of photo-aging (wrinkles, brown spots, slack skin, etc.) directly result from UV exposure.
The Sun and Skin
First, let’s clear the air. Some sun is important not only to the skin, but to our overall wellbeing. Exposure to sunlight has an energizing effect and is good for the soul. It is also a source of vitamin D – D3 to be specific. Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin after exposure to UVB rays and is responsible for defending the body against microbial invaders, and regulating the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream.
Ten minutes in the sun each day can be highly beneficial, but remind clients to use caution. In addition to aging, overexposure to UVB rays can cause sunburn, where overexposure to UVA rays, which have longer wavelengths, can reach deep into the dermis, damaging collagen fibers. Be sure you’re your clients are protecting their faces and vulnerable sun-damaged areas with good physical blockers like zinc and titanium dioxide, which also guard against other environmental toxins.
The more common forms of skin cancer are basil cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma is the most serious and can be deadly. That is why an aestheticians role in assessing and observing clients skin is critical. Early detection for Melanoma is the difference between life and death. Though genetics may play a role, clients with fair skin, blonde or red hair, or those who have a significant number of moles (or large moles) may be more susceptible.
So what’s your defense? Despite what much of the media reports, makeup with low SPFs do not provide enough protection – always opt for an SPF30. Also steer clear of chemical-based formulas. Instead look for formulas with natural zinc barrier like the Daytime Defense SPF30 and day creams such as eZinc Protection Cream or RAW EnviroProtect for men.
Relief from Overexposure
For clients with minor sunburns the Therapy E Serum will help repair and heal, giving the skin a soothing blast of vitamin E. The Super C Serum will rejuvenate and help rebuild collagen damage. Skin will naturally become more dehydrated during the summer months and our heavy water spray Cucumber Spritz will provide instant hydration and cooling, and will retain moisture in the skin longer. Calming Skin Gel is also great for soothing support and relief of irritations since it is aloe based. We’ve have put together a Summer Survival Kit, which includes the Cucumber Spritz, Antioxidant Complex Serum, eZinc Protection Cream, and Daytime Defense SPF 30. When used in tandem, the skin is adequately hydrated and protected, and also gets a healthy dose of antioxidants. Here are a few additional tips:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Avoid tanning beds, and use caution near water, snow and sand
- Opt for a sunless tanner like the Bronzed DN-Age Self Tanner
- Wear a hat and clothing that offers SPF protection
- Hydrate – always carry water with you
- Boost internal antioxidant support of the skin with antioxidant supplements
Know the Signs
Skin cancer will present itself in many different forms. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer (affecting nearly 2 million Americans each year), and squamous cell carcinoma the second (affecting more than 700,000 annually). Melanoma however, is the most serious form of cancer. Knowing what to look for in skin abnormalities and catching skin cancer early on is absolutely essential in preventing the proliferation of cancerous cells. In many cases it can be stopped in its tracks.
For basal cell carcinoma some signs include non-healing open sores; reddish patches; shiny pink, red or tan nodules; pink, elevated growths; and scar-like tissue. Squamous cell carcinomas will often appear as persistent rough, thick, scaly patches that may easily bleed. They can also look like warts or open sores with a crusted surface. For melanomas, teach your clients the ABCDE method for examining moles.
- A – Asymmetry:Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If a line was drawn through the center of the spot, it should be symmetrical on either side
- B – Border: Be aware of moles or spots with blurry or irregular edges
- C – Color: Moles with more than one hue are suspicious and need to be evaluated by a doctor – this includes lightening or darkening of the mole
- D – Diameter: If the spot is larger than approximately ¼ inch (6mm) in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser), it needs to be examined by a doctor
- E – Evolving: Any mole or skin lesion that is changing in size, shape and color.
Always refer clients to a doctor for abnormal spots and never administer any active treatments on the area without first knowing the diagnosis.
The role of the skin care professional.
What is our role as skin care professionals and how do we provide optimum healthy sun protection for our clients? Our role first and foremost is to educate clients and provide them the tools for obtaining and maintaining healthy skin. This includes daily care using safe, effective and healthy ingredients, regular professional treatments, whole body health (this affects our skin too), and, of course, adequate sunscreen.
A sunscreen formula’s performance also depends on the type of work you are doing and what your client is using in their daily skin care regimen. If a client is on vitamin A derivatives, other acid based correctives and lighteners, or they are receiving skin peeling treatments or microdermabrasion, we not only have to consider the value of their protection but how that formula will interact with the disturbance to the skin and the sun/heat exposure.
Remember that detection can also lead to prevention. Know the signs and teach clients how to detect these as well. When caught early on and treated, skin cancer can almost always be cured.