Showing posts with label dermatology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dermatology. Show all posts

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last decade, as more and more people choose to have important symbols or meaningful images or words tattooed on them, but do they increase the risk of health problems, including cancer?

Tattoos and skin cancer

The case for

Tattoos have been linked to an increased risk of infection as a result of breaking the skin, but some health experts believe that they also increase the risk of skin cancer. Dr DJS Tula, a consultant cosmetic surgeon at the BLK Hospital in Delhi, India, said that tattoos can increase the risk of blood-borne infections, including hepatitis B and C and HIV, as well as types of skin cancer including squamous cell, melanoma and carcinoma. Dr Tula added that having a tattoo does not mean that you are going to get skin cancer, but the risk is elevated because of the ink used to create the design.

Dr Tula also added that tattoos should never been done close to moles because they make it difficult for people to spot changes in the appearance of the mole, which are a common symptom of skin cancer.

Studies published in the USA have also prompted an investigation into the chemical make-up of tattoo ink by the US Food and Drug Administration. Studies showed that some of the chemicals, including black ink benzo(a)pyrene, have been found to cause skin cancer during animal testing.

The case against

In contrast, Dr Ariel Ostad, a dermatologist and surgeon from New York, said that skin experts have been researching the impact of tattoos on the skin for several years and there is no evidence to suggest that tattoos increase the risk of skin cancer. Research involving people who have the condition has not uncovered greater prevalence of skin cancer among people with tattoos and there is also no evidence to suggest that having a tattoo after receiving treatment for skin cancer increase the risk of relapse.

Dr Ostad did support Dr Tula's comments about avoiding tattoos close to moles, stating that tattoos can mask the visible changes in the skin, which may prevent skin cancer from being diagnosed early. Early diagnosis increases survival rates significantly. Dr Ostad's advice was to leave a suitable gap around any moles to ensure that any changes are clearly visible and can be identified without any trouble.

Risk factors for skin cancer

The most important risk factor for skin cancer is sun exposure. Research also suggests that people who have fair skin have a higher risk. If you are going outside, apply sun cream (if you have fair skin that burns easily use a high factor), wear a sun hat and avoid the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm). Avoid using sun beds and tanning lamps, as these use powerful UV rays and increase your risk. If you want a healthy golden glow, use self-tanning products.

Caring for tattooed skin

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, newly tattooed skin is very sensitive and you should take extra care when bathing and going out in the sun. It is also important to keep an eye on your skin and to seek medical help if you notice irritation and rashes around the tattoo. The AAD also recommended avoiding moles when choosing a location for the new tattoo and seeing a dermatologist if you notice any changes in the skin around the tattoo.

The relationship between tattoos and skin cancer is unclear. Some experts believe that tattoo ink can increase one’s risk of the condition but then others say that there is no link Further research in this area is being carried out and new evidence may become available in the coming months or years to either refute or support the claim that tattoos increase the risk of cancer.

By Richard Keane

Monday, May 28, 2012

As the weather gets warmer, enjoying the sunshine becomes top priority. But increased sun exposure also means an increased risk of sunburn and, in turn, skin cancer if you don't adequately protect yourself.

Last summer the U.S. Food and Drug Administration instituted new sunscreen label guidelines so consumers could clearly tell which ones offered the most protection. The new labeling was supposed to be in effect by this summer, but the FDA extended the deadline to December, as companies were having trouble complying.

Dermatologists say having the proper information is crucial when out in the summer sun.

"Wearing sunscreen and then deliberately going out in the sun is almost as [bad] as going out with no sunscreen at all," said Dr. Robin Ashinoff, chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. "You don't get burned, but the UV rays are still getting into your skin. Sunscreen is important, but you should also wear the right clothing and shield yourself as much as possible from direct sun exposure."

Here are some tips from experts on how to properly use sunscreen and protect yourself from sun damage:

The difference between SPF 50 and SPF 100 is marginal; look for "broad spectrum" on the label.

"You should get the highest number you can, but anything above 50 and the difference is pretty slim," Ashinoff said. "But don't get anything less than SPF 30, as that offers minimal protection."

A broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A rays don't necessarily cause a visible burn (that's what UV-B rays do), but they penetrate deep into the skin and can damage the collagen in your skin as well as your immune system, Ashinoff said.

No sunscreen is waterproof or sweatproof.

One of the new FDA guidelines is that no sunscreen can be labeled as "sweatproof" or "waterproof," because it's misleading and overstates the effectiveness of the product.

"There are no sunscreens that work after someone swims," said Dr. Naana Boakye of Bergen Dermatology in Englewood Cliffs. "You still need to reapply it every two hours, if you're in the water or not."

Many sunscreens in stores still have the "waterproof" and "sweatproof" labels, and their makers don't have to change the labels until December, when sunscreen will be the last thing on anyone's mind.

Light-colored clothes don't protect you from UV rays any better than dark-colored clothes, but tightly woven fabrics will block out more rays.

"This offers more protection than a looser, airy garment," Boakye said. "But wearing any kind of protective clothing out in the sun is better than nothing."

Tightly woven fabrics include canvas, twill and denim, as opposed to loosely woven fabrics like mesh and crepe.

You can still get sunburned even if it's cloudy outside.

In fact, cloudy days are when you can get more severe sunburn, especially if you're extremely fair-skinned.

"I see the worst sunburns in the spring because it's still not full summer sun and people think they don't need to be using sunscreen," Ashinoff said. "If you're out in full sun or not, you should be applying about 2 ounces of sunscreen, about the size of a shot glass, over your exposed skin."

Get a thorough skin care exam every year, even if skin cancer doesn't run in your family.

Even if moles don't dot your skin or if you tan easily and don't burn, dermatologists still stress the importance of regular skin checks.

People with fair skin, light eyes, a lot of moles and a family history of melanoma are more at risk for developing skin cancer. Also, those taking certain medications like antibiotics and diuretics are more susceptible to sun damage.

"I usually advise people to come in once a year if there's no history," Boakye said. "But if you have a lot of moles or have a history of melanoma, then you should be getting checked every three to six months."