Thursday, May 14, 2009

Get Thee To A Dermatologist...

Ladies, I've been meaning to do this post for a while because I am a bit of a nut on the topic. I am a sunscreen Nazi and I will get on my soapbox to preach about going to the dermatologist. Regularly. Unless you have been living in a cave all your life, you've been exposed to the sun and other elements and need to be evaluated. Again - regularly. You should have a skin cancer check once a year.

Now's the time of year that all the magazines are talking about it. And for good reason. Hey, I did my fair share of tanning back in the day. I never did the baby oil thing because ewww, it was just too greasy for me. But remember using SPF 2? We didn't know any better. But we do now.

And you can talk to the dermatologist about more than just skin cancer. Talk to them about your overall skin and whatever concerns you have. My derm, Dr Lee, is just fabulous and I love him. (If anyone in Montgomery County needs one, let me know - he has offices in Bethesda and Germantown. My pickiest friends actually go to him.)

When I first started seeing him, I used Differin to address some blackheads (I know, ewww, but I have an oily T-zone) on my nose and chin. Then, 6 months later, I upgraded to Retin-A. I loved my Retin-A for about a year and a half. Then my skin completely flipped on me. Age, I guess? Ugh, that's a depressing thought. Anyway, all of a sudden, the Retin-A was making my skin red, peeling, dry, irritated. Of course, since I'm a dingbat, I didn't say anything at the next appointment because I figured it was just the winter. And I continued using the Retin-A, aka way-too-harsh-for-my-skin-what-am-I-doing, once a week or so. But my skin didn't really feel that great. It was just meh, ok.

The *next* visit, this past April, I finally wised up and asked Dr Lee - so he immediately downgraded me to Renova, which is 0.02% instead of 0.1%. Within a week, my skin's texture was so smooth and it feels great! Because I am finally using the right formula for my skin. Now this isn't the right thing for everybody but it certainly worked for me. Bottom line, go to the dermatologist and talk to him/her about what's going on and what you need.

I will really get on my soapbox about sun exposure....

When you are in the sun - -

1. Wear SPF.

2. The highest SPF you can, in a formula your skin will tolerate. This may mean something different for your face, nose, lips, etc.

3. Reapply often. I am a huge fan of the aerosol sprays as they make application and reapplication quick and easy - especially when you are headed out to the pool/beach/lake/river with a couple of kids. There are so many formulas out there. And I don't know about you, but I can't stand that feeling of rubbing lotion in my skin with sand - blech.

4. Wear a hat. This will (a) help to protect you from the sun, (b) help prevent the dreaded pool-headache from glare because it keeps so much of the glare from getting in around your sunglasses, and (c) protect your hair in general, especially if you do any coloring or other chemical processes to it; if not, then it will save your scalp.

5. Don't forget your: lips, ears, scalp, feet, etc. (On a multi-family beach vacation once, one of the dads got sunburned on the bottom of his feet. How do you walk?)

6. If you have kids, make sure they are protected. My kids are so brainwashed, they ask for sunscreen when we go to the pool at 6:00 pm.

7. Don't do the tanning bed thing, please. Seriously. Or if you do, do some serious research first so that you are fully aware of the risks.

Ok, end of rant.

Follow some good common sense and you can have skin as fresh and glowing as these lovely spring flowers from my garden...

ps - I know I promised you some posts on dresses, awards, etc. Still getting pics off the BlackBerry. Coming soon...


Anonymous said...

Oh, I know what you mean about skin problems... Though here, it takes half a month to get to a dermatologist. Apparently, everyone is crazy about their skin (which is good, not until you need to get in fast). In my situation, I am stuck with with horrible alergy... I went to dermatologist about three weekks ago, she subscribed me with some lotion. It helped. Though, I probably ate something and it got back :( So, poor arms :( I could make this test for alergies, BUT it costs a fortune... So, I pray to God and hope that this lotion will heal my arms...

Kathy said...

I completely agree with you on all recommendations and I follow each and every one of them! Quick FIL story...My daughter and I were visiting them in Florida and when she mentioned wanting a tan he went to get his "tanning oil" "this will do the trick!" I asked how old it was...a few years...there was no SPF on the bottle! It must have been at least 20 years old. That's the old generation, happy to look like leather in their younger days and then get face lifts to repair the damage in the older days! My Mom had us putting on sunscreen in the 70's. She read all those woman's magazines!

FabulousFloridaMommy said...

I would suggest BullFrog Quick Drying Gel as an excellent sunblock...we even use it on our boys. It dries quickly and lasts for a very long time...amazing product, IMHO. :)

Zoë Moët said...

ooh pretty flowers. As to the skin thing, thank you for the reminder. I am a very fair skinned redhead so I am especially sensitive to the sun. Lately, I have been remiss about putting on SPF moisturizer...I just always seem to forget in the morning, or not have time when I'm rushing out of the house. Perhaps I'll buy a hat!

GingerSnap said...

Hubby and I have an apt to go see the Derm next month for a skin cancer check, etc. I think its super important, but I have been a slacker and have not been to a Derm in a couple years. I know, I know, bad. But I do wear SPF EVERYDAY and I use Retin A at night religiously (love the stuff!) Hopefully our apts will be a postive one, I did a little tanning back in college which I am stupid for doing, but hopefully I will get a positive checkup anyway :)

AppGal said...

Great post! You are so right...this is such a serious issue. It burns me up (no pun intended, ha!) when I hear my high school girls talking about going to the tanning bed. I try to convince them otherwise, but it doesn't help. One actually told me, "well my dad got skin cancer already...I know I'll get it too so I'm just gonna keep on going." UGH!!!

I really do need to schedule a derm appt. I practically lived in the dermatologist's office when i was in HS and college (I had awful, cystic acne)--I was on Differin, Retin-A, Accutane, you name it-I tried it. But I haven't been in several years since my skin cleared up. Even though I'm pale as a ghost, I have some moles I'd like them to check out. Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

Heidi--very POIGNANT!!! Great--start of the summer post!
Taking care of our skin with sunscreen is UBER IMPORTANT!!!
I had a young female patient recently die at age 32 from melanoma. Also want to point out that certain medications will make skin more
I use Obagi 35 religiously! It's more of a physical sunblock (micronized zinc) vs. a chemical sunblock(benzophenone etc.)>
Physical sunscreens, although may make the skin a bit white, are better for people with sensitive skin!

Drewablank said...

Thanks for the terrific post, HeidiG! I usually glaze over articles about skincare because they're all basically saying the same thing, but you made it so easy to read and understand. I'm thankful that I haven't had any major skin issues, but youth is quickly abandoning my boat (if you get my drift). So, I slather on the SPF now, and make sure that most, if not all, my skincare products have some sort of SPF in them.

Defensive skincare is good skincare! :) Thanks again, HeidiG!

Anonymous said...

I just made an appointment with my Derm yesterday. But here's the thing-- the earliest appointment isn't until NOVEMBER! Isn't that crazy?! I can see a PA next week, but that is just not the same (and my insurance will only cover one appoint a year, PA or Dr.). I too believe in the importance of checks. My mother's cousin died from Melanoma. You can't be too careful (and I am guilty of baking in the sun in my younger days!).
I have tried Retin A several times and had the same reaction. I am going to ask to try Renova next time. Thanks! :)

dinagideon said...

Anyone who has spent anytime at my blog knows how pale I I am right there with you, sister.

I am a big fan of the Neutrogena Helioplex sunscreens. Supposedly it really works well. My favorite part is that it is not greasy at all.

:) I hope my kids are as well trained as yours one day!

gigiofca said...

I do a sunblock lotion, spray and a hat. I get sun rashes, so I have to. Good reminder & good plug about dermatologists.

mrs.anketell said...

Just had an appt. with my primary dr. who is also a dermatologist! It takes weeks, if not months, to see her. I have been having some problems, too, with my skin; redness, possible mild rosacea...and a small red "bump" on my nose that needs to be checked in another three months. Plus, she prescribed some antibiotic lotion stuff for my red areas! I have NEVER had skin issues, until, let's say a certain age....and after having my son. Bad part is, i spent a LOT of time in the sun, and tanned a LOT when i was in my twenties. So, important blog to read today, thanks!!

snaphappy said...

I thought of you when I bought my new sun hat in Florida over spring break. I can't wait to wear it at the pool this summer!

Lissa said...

okay, guilty now.... :)

HeidiG said...

-Smile- Good luck - I hope the lotion works for you!! Allergy skin is no fun at all.

Kathy - Wow, that is hilarious. Good for your mom for putting sunscreen on you in the 70's. I think the only time I did that in my youth was if we were in FL or south!

FFM - great suggestion - and I will definitely pass on to hubby & kids. I am really addicted to my spray, but hubby hates the sprays. I've heard BullFrog is awesome.

Zoe Moet - I have become a huge hat fan. Sometimes new acquaintances don't recognize me at the pool b/c I am incognito in my huge sun hat and sunglasses!

GingerSnap - hey, I think we have all done stupid tanning stuff in our lives. But I know you are so good about your sunscreen now and going to the Derm is great!

AppGal - Wow, you have come a long way from the Derm's office, haven't you? Yeah, always good to get a check. I finally got hubby to go this year after nagging him for several years.

luvallthingsjcrew - You are absolutely right about medications making skin more sensitive and excellent point about chemical vs. physical sunblocks. On that same's amazing how much my bangs have done to improve my melasma since they physically block the sun! :)

Drewablank - I think youth is abandoning most of our boats. :) Glad the post helped!

Stephanie - Yikes, not until November? Glad you are on the calendar!! In the interim, you could try mixing the Retin-A with lotion to dilute it. Since I still have a sizable tube left, I am using my leftover Retin-A on my chest, neck and the back of my hads.

Dina - the Neutrogena Helioplex sprays are actually my favorite and what I usually use. I think it works great. And, yeah, it's not greasy or stinky, so it's great for when you are going to be out and about all day, it doesn't scream sunscreen.

Gigi - Yay you!!

mrs.anketell - like I said before, I think we've all had our share of tanning sins. That is so great that your primary is a derm!! Lucky you. And yeah, I hadn't had skin issues until several years ago either.

SnapHappy - can't wait to see your hat - I bet it's fab!!

Lissa - I won't say any more as I've lectured enough today. :)

sparrowsandsparkles said...

Yes! Thank you for this post. I need to mention too... my husband was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in Feb and after the biopsy they did a much bigger surgery in March... and this was a teeny tiny looking little mole that, luckily, was only .2 mm depth (1 mm and you are talking chemo, I believe) and Stage O. Still, he has to go for checks every 3 months now. I've preached sunscreen to him our entire marriage and he would still run out into any ray of sunshine (we live in Seattle, as you know, so sun is rare and greatly coveted), shirt off, trying to "get some color". No more!! And you can believe I am now extra vigilant with our kids! :)

roxy said...

Great post! I am in the midst of a major peelfest from not wearing the proper sunscreen while in Florida, and believe me I've learned my lesson.

HeidiG said...

sparrowsandsparkles - wow, that is an important lesson to all of us. I'm so glad you all found it in time before it got worse. Your hubby is very lucky.

roxy - ouch! I feel for you! moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.