Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Minimizing Your Risk of Skin Cancer

Summer is officially here!  I want each of you to be proactive about your health this summer.  Over the next few weeks I will be providing you with information on how to be healthy during the summer.  Today we are going to talk about minimizing your risk of skin cancer.
Can you minimize the risk of skin cancer?  Yes, most skin cancers are related to sun exposure.  Melanoma diagnoses have risen nearly 2 percent a year since 2000.   Minimizing your risk involves refraining from sun exposure during certain times of the day and using an appropriate sunscreen.
Some experts blame inappropriate use of sunscreen for the increase in skin cancers, saying the people do not apply enough lotion or do not reapply the sunscreen every two hours as instructed.  But, until this year sunscreens were misleading the consumer – sunscreens were designed primarily to protect people from ultraviolet B rays (UVB), the main cause of sunburn.  Sunscreens allowed us to stay outside longer without getting a sunburn, but did not protect against ultraviolet A rays (UVA).  Ultraviolet A rays are associated with aging and skin damage, the cause of skin cancers.

In 2013 the Food and Drug Administration increased the requirements for sunscreen labeling. The new rule requires sunscreens be labeled accurately to depict which Ultraviolet rays are blocked by the sunscreen.   You may see the term “broad spectrum protection” – this now means the sunscreen has been approved to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.   Sunscreens cannot claim to be waterproof, only water-resistant, and labels must note a time limit of either 40 or 80 minutes before the sunscreen is ineffective. 
What can you do to protect yourself against skin cancer?
  • Look for products with an SPF of 15 to 50, that are labeled “broad spectrum protection” meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. 
  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun, as their skin is especially sensitive.  Sunscreens should not be used on infants. According the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, combination sunscreens containing insect repellants like DEET should be avoided with young children. Young children may lick their hands or put them in their mouths. 
  • Try to keep older children inside when the sun is harshest, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  A bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles the risk of melanoma later in life, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
  • Avoid sunscreen sprays.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned sunscreen powders (though some products may be available).  The spray may be inhaled into the lungs causing respiratory issues.
  • Products containing Vitamin A, retinol or its derivatives, such as retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not banned these products, but they are concerned that the additives increase sun sensitivity. 
  • According to the New York Times, consumers should take endorsements and seals of approval with a grain of salt.  The Skin Cancer Foundation gives a “seal of recommendation” to sunscreens, but only if their manufacturer has donated $10,000 to become a member of the organization.
  • Use the ABCD rules for identifying skin lesions that need immediate attention.  
A - Asymmetry: Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through a normal spot, you would have two symmetrical halves. In cases of skin cancer, spots don't look the same on both sides.
B - Border: A mole or spot with blurry and/or jagged edges.
C - Color: A mole that is more than one hue is suspicious and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Normal spots are usually one color. This can include lightening or darkening of the mole. Melanoma cells usually continue to produce melanin, which accounts for the cancers appearing in mixed shades of tan, brown and black.
D - Diameter: If it is larger than a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch or 6mm), it needs to be examined by a doctor. This is includes areas that do not have any other abnormalities (color, border, asymmetry). But, don't be fooled by size alone - it can be smaller.
E - Elevation/Evolving: Elevation means the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface. Looks different from the rest or changing in size, shape, color.

ABCD Mole Recognition
Remember - if you are not sure about a mole or lesion, see your healthcare provider.  Healthcare providers would rather tell you, all is good, instead of having to deliver bad news.

                                                    Happy Summer
                                                    ~  Connie ~

The New York Times (2013). The New Rules for Sunscreen. Retrieved from:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2013). Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually Not. Retrieved from:

Any information received on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure skin cancer. This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical care. Always seek the advice of a trained health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before seeking any treatment. Proper medical attention should always be sought for specific ailments. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking medical treatment due to information obtained on

Monday, May 19, 2014

Welcome to my Connie's Family Practice Blog

    Why blog about health? I'm a family nurse practitioner, and much like parents never stop being parents no matter the age of their children, being a nurse practitioner is a permanent part of my psyche.
    I'm always on the lookout for the newest health topic in the news. When I read about something that interests me, I want to know more about it. That's one of the joys of being a life-long student (it took me 4-1/2 degrees and 18 years of school to become a nurse practitioner).

    I see patients every day that want to be healthy, no one wants to bill.  With this blog I will share ways to lead a proactive healthy life.

    Some of you may want to know, what is a family nurse practitioner?  A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education (a minimum of a master's degree) and clinical coursework in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. FNPs provide a broad range of health care services. They provide some of the same care provided by physicians and maintain close working relationships with physicians. An FNP can serve as a patient's regular health care provider.

    Family nurse practitioners (FNP) see patients of all ages. The core philosophy of the field is individualized care. Nurse practitioners focus on patients' conditions as well as the effects of illness on the lives of the patients and their families. FNPs make prevention, wellness, and patient education priorities. This can mean fewer prescriptions and less expensive treatments. Informing patients about their health care and encouraging them to participate in decisions are central to the care provided by FNPs. In addition to health care services, FNPs conduct research and are often active in patient advocacy activities

    My goal is help you identify ways to be healthy. My health blog will contain info from mainstream sources such as the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners to name a few.

    ~ Connie, FNP ~