<![CDATA[Mole Monitor | Skin Cancer Symptom Checker - Blog]]>Mon, 04 Apr 2016 19:19:45 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[How Well Does Your Clothing Protect You From The Sun?]]>Sun, 21 Feb 2016 22:52:35 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/how-well-does-your-clothing-protect-you-from-the-sunPicture

Sure, it may seem like common sense. Hats, long sleeves, sunglasses... they're all necessities in the summer. But how much does clothing actually protect you from the sun? Is your summer wardrobe helping you or harming you?

Essentially, it all comes down to what fabric and color your clothing is made up of... as well as how much of your skin is covered of course! But let's find out...

Recommended reading: How to apply sunscreen the right way

Fabric: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers (such as polyester and rayon) offer the greatest sun protection. Refined or bleached cottons or crepe offer the least amount of sun protection. Glossy fabrics, such as satin, reflect more UV rays away from the skin than do matte fabrics, like linen. Silks and gauze-type fabrics will of course provide much less protection than a heavy denim, as looser weaves allow for more sun to come through.

Color: Dark colors like black and navy are best to wear as the colors absorb the sun's light rays. This will make you feel warmer under the sun, but it will do a better job at protecting your skin than a white top of the same fabric would. The more intense the hue of your clothing, the more protection it will provide when you're under the sun, so try to stay away from lights, whites, and pastels. Clothing with patterns and images provide slightly more protection, but again - the darker the colors the better.

Hats: A simple baseball cap is better than none, but the best kind of hat under the sun is a wide-brimmed one. Just how wide? A hat that's brim extends at least 3 inches or more from your head all the way around is enough to shade your face and neck. If you don't have a hat but wear a scarf, make sure the material is thick and dark, or it won't do you any good on the beach. 

The main issue that arises here is that while darker and heavier fabrics provide more protection from the sun, they will alternatively make you feel warmer. This is why most 'summer' clothing is usually light in color and fabric weight. Unfortunately, you either have to sweat it out or risk the extra skin exposure. Alternatively, you can apply sunscreen on your body before getting dressed, but be aware that you will have to re-apply every so often.

There is another option, however. Many companies now produce UV protective gear and clothing, making it much easier to work and play outside. A good practice is to look for clothing that has a UPF of at least 30 (much like sunscreen!) Or of course you can always opt to stay in the shade under a large umbrella or tree. Staying under direct sunlight for any length of time can be quite dangerous, so be sure to stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm. 

So what does your summer wardrobe look like? 

Recommended Reading: UV Indexes - What are they and why are they important?

Sources:
  1. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/clothing/protection
  2. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/graphics/clothing

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<![CDATA[5 Celebrities Who Have Had Skin Cancer]]>Sun, 07 Feb 2016 18:59:23 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/5-celebrities-who-have-had-skin-cancerPicture
This past weekend marked what would have been Bob Marley's 76th birthday, if he had not passed away from Melanoma in 1981 at the age of 36. While his story is a tragic one, there are many celebrities living full lives with skin cancer today. Some you may know, others perhaps not.

Unfortunately as skin cancer is indeed the most common cancer - it affects millions of people worldwide and celebrities are no exception. Do you recognize any of the faces below?

1. Hugh Jackman. This Australian actor is one of the many survivors who have a loved one to thank for spotting skin cancer for them! It was only until Hugh's wife insisted on getting checked by a dermatologist that he finally went. Later, he was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma.

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Hugh Jackman promoting the use of sunscreen in January 2015.
2. Diane Keaton. Diane was diagnosed at the very young age of 21 with squamous cell carcinoma. She admits - “Did I ever wear sunblock? Never. I was always trying to tan,” Now she promotes the use of broad-spectrum sunscreen.
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Diane speaking at the Melanoma Research Alliance/ L'Oreal Paris Event in 2015.
3. Ewan McGregor. In 2008, a then 37 year-old Ewan did the right thing and had a mole on his face looked at by a dermatologist. It later turned out to be skin cancer, and he had a few more moles removed as a precaution. 
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After a scare in 2008, Ewan McGregor makes sure to wear sunscreen consistently.
4. Jesse Tyler Ferguson. This American actor known for his role on TV show Modern Family was only recently diagnosed and treated for skin cancer. He posted the following image on his Instagram account mentioning his treatment.
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As a fair-skinner redhead, Jesse is unfortunately more susceptible to skin cancer.
5. Melanie Griffith. In 2009, this actress had skin cancer removal surgery under her eyelid. A spokeswoman said that the surgery was a preventative measure and was done early enough to prevent future complications. 
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Melanie Griffith was lucky enough to have caught her skin cancer early on.
It's important to know that anyone can be affected by skin cancer, young and old. The best precautions are to stay sun-smart and get your skin checked regularly by a dermatologist. It can save your life.

Recommended reading: Who is Most Likely to Get Skin Cancer?

Recommended reading: You've Booked Your First Dermatologist Appointment, Now What?

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<![CDATA[A Tan Is NOT a Sign Of 'Good Health'  & Here's Why]]>Sun, 24 Jan 2016 19:43:41 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/a-tan-is-not-a-sign-of-good-health-heres-whyPicture
We’ve all heard it in some form or another. Whether it’s ‘a tan is a sign of good health!’ or ‘a base tan is healthy’ those who know better can’t help but cringe. It seems only in the past decade or so that we have all finally started to realize just how dangerous tanning can be, and how deadly melanomas can form because of them. However, despite the facts - the sunbed industry remains very successful. 

Society still views a tan as an enviable and sexy image of health, though this is changing. For example, Google the word ‘tan’ and you get very different results from searching ‘pale’ see below: (tan results on left, pale results on right)



It is quite obvious that tans are still considered to be ‘sexy’ as evidenced by the tone of these images of bikini models, beaches, and general beauty. Images that result from the ‘pale’ search include vampires and the ill – so there is still room for improvement. 

Recommended reading - Who is Most Likely to Get Skin Cancer


So how can we fight to raise awareness on this topic?

The next time someone says that a tan is a sign of good health, refer them to these startling facts:
  • Tans are not healthy, at all. In fact, the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
  • Did you know that In the US alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning? Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases. Tanned skin either achieved by the sun or by sunbed, is definitely unhealthy.
  • Furthermore, 86% of Melanoma cases can be attributed to UV exposure from the sun and Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
  • The risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when you use tanning beds before the age of 35.
  • A tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays. A base tan does little to protect you from future damage to your skin caused by UV exposure. In fact, people who indoor tan are more likely to report getting sunburned.
  • An estimated 1,957 indoor tanners landed in US emergency rooms in 2012 after burning their skin or eyes, fainting or suffering other injuries.
  • More than 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun.


Tanning is not healthy, nor is it ever advised. In many cases, tanning has proven fatal. Be vigilant and use sun protection - it could save your life!


Sources:
  1. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun/5-scary-facts-about-tanning-beds
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/indoor_tanning.htm
  3. http://www.skincancer.org/news/tanning/international
  4. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts
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<![CDATA[What To Do When You've Just Been Diagnosed With Skin Cancer]]>Sun, 10 Jan 2016 18:39:20 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/what-to-do-when-youve-just-been-diagnosed-with-skin-cancerPicture
​Being diagnosed with skin cancer is never easy, in fact, it can be quite debilitating news. Depending on which stage and which type category you fall into the news might require changing your entire lifestyle all at once to prepare for treatment. This may include taking time off work, quitting activities, dipping into life savings, and even moving house. In short, a skin cancer diagnosis’ severity varies and affects everyone differently, but it is never ‘just’ skin cancer.


Recommended reading - How to respond to "It's Just Skin Cancer"
 
When you’re first diagnosed with skin cancer, you may be sat in your doctor’s office, or at the end of a phone call. When discussing treatment options, it is a worthy idea to bring someone you trust such as a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend before making any serious decisions alone.

Below are 5 tips to help ease you into self-care when you are newly diagnosed:

  1. Take a deep breath. Cancer is a difficult diagnosis to come to terms with, and if you need time to think before you tell anyone, take it. Don’t panic and remain hopeful. Medical science has made incredible progress in the treatment of skin cancer/melanoma. Be sure to stick with a medical team you feel comfortable with!
  2. Gather support. Family, friends, anyone who you know and love should be part of your support system. It’s okay to ask for help and to receive it. If you live far from the necessary support, create a private Facebook group where you can chat openly with loved ones.
  3. Research. Learn as much as you can from medical professionals. Get more than one opinion, or more than five if you need it. Websites like the Skin Cancer Foundation, Melanoma Research Foundation, and Academy of Dermatology are great places to begin if you want information online. Remember to take all information you find on the internet with a grain of salt, because anyone can write articles about cancer if they have a website or access to social media. It’s all about checking for properly cited sources.
  4. Take time out for you. Cancer is scary and there will be moments of anxiety, which is completely normal. Sometimes we just want to be left alone, and that’s okay. Keeping positive is exhausting, so it’s okay to be upset. Remember we are all human and keep your head by taking time for yourself – whether it’s meditation, prayer, or simply a spa day, take care of yourself regularly. 
  5. Seek available resources. Many oncology departments offer free support to cancer patients and their families. There are volunteer drivers, support groups, free meals, and charity offerings available – search for these online if your clinic doesn’t offer them, or ask local community leaders for assistance.
 
Remember to listen to your body and take each day as it comes. Sometimes treatments take longer than we hope, but remain positive. Also keep in mind that many people are unsure of how to react to cancer diagnosis of a loved one. Be patient and surround yourself with as many supportive people as possible.
 
Feel free to join the emotional support group on Facebook for skin cancer/melanoma so you can connect with others who are going through the exact same circumstances in confidentiality. Click here to join now.

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<![CDATA[What You Should Know About Actinic Keratosis]]>Sun, 20 Dec 2015 21:06:56 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/what-you-should-know-about-actinic-keratosisPicture
If you’ve been to the dermatologist recently, or have researched skin cancer online, you have most likely come across the term actinic keratosis. These potentially dangerous spots are important to understand, so here's what you need to know -

What exactly is it? Actinic Keratosis is a raised, itchy growth or lesion on the skin, sometimes referred to as solar keratosis. These lesions may appear on the scalp, ears, face, lips, or arms – basically any area of skin that is exposed to the sun.  They vary in size and shape, and can appear in shades of pink, brown, or red. 

Most people tend to notice these keratoses as itchy or inflamed spots, usually appearing like pimples or bug bites at first.  But did you know that these same tiny spots can develop into skin cancer? The more keratoses you have, the higher your risk of skin cancer.
 
According to the skin cancer foundation, “Although the vast majority of actinic keratoses remain benign, some studies report that up to ten percent may advance to squamous cell carcinoma. This percentage does not sound very large, but it has a large impact. When it comes to squamous cell carcinomas, 40-60 percent begin as untreated actinic keratoses and may advance to invade the surrounding tissues. About 2 to 10 percent of these squamous cell carcinomas spread to the internal organs and are life-threatening.” 

Who is susceptible? As with many skin cancers, actinic keratosis appears mainly in fair-skinned and light-haired adults, however keep in mind it can appear on anyone over the age of 40. They usually appear in people who have spent long periods of time working outside or those who have neglected to use sun protection. While these spots can appear after age 40, most do not appear until after age 60.

How is it treated? AK can typically be treated with medical creams or gels, however it may be necessary to remove certain spots by freezing or scraping off the affected area. Other treatments are available such as chemical peels or laser resurfacing. Be sure to contact your dermatologist for the treatment that is right for you. In some cases, the area is so small that the skin may heal on its own. The best form of treatment is prevention if you remain dedicated to protecting yourself from harmful UV radiation with sunscreen.

Remember, AK spots are indicators of sun damage, and like moles, can change and grow over time. It is best to remain conscious of any changes to these spots, and get suspicious keratoses checked regularly by a doctor. 

Sources:
  1. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/actinic-keratosis/what-is-actinic-keratosis#panel1-3
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/solar-keratosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  3. http://patient.info/health/solar-keratosis

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<![CDATA[Who Is Most Likely To Get Skin cancer?]]>Sun, 06 Dec 2015 21:53:34 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/who-is-most-likely-to-get-skin-cancerPicture
We already know by now that skin cancer is the most common cancer of them all, however we are not yet entirely sure why some people develop cancers more than others. This rings especially true for those who are born with Melanoma or develop the disease at an early age. Sometimes it is not always the reason we imagine that some develop cancer over others.

For example, some people who tan regularly may never develop skin cancer, while others who have never tanned a day in their life do. While these cases do happen, there is a substantial amount of evidence proving that avoiding certain habits (like tanning) will prevent cancer. So while we continue to work on finding the exact causes of why certain individuals get cancer and others do not, we are able to decipher who is more likely to develop these diseases based on extensive behavioural studies. Furthermore, we are then able to link which behaviours contribute to cancer, and which behaviours may prevent it.

So the question begs to be asked - Who is most likely to get skin cancer?
  1. Sunbathers - We know by now that UV radiation plays a strong part in the development of skin cancers. In fact, the use of tanning beds before the age of 35 increases your risk of Melanoma by 75% so those who tan or burn often are at the highest risk.
  2. Fair-skinned redheads - Unfortunately those born with red hair, fair skin, and fair eyes, are 10-100 times more susceptible to skin cancers based on genetic factors. Click here to read more about redheads and skin cancer.
  3. People with moles - People with 100 or more moles or naevi on their skin are 7 times more likely to develop malignant Melanomas.
  4. Family History - If there is a family history of skin cancers present, the skin cancer risk is doubled. This risk does not apply only to cancers of the skin, either.
  5. Men - Due to a number of factors, such as outdoor work and outdoor activities, men are more likely than women to develop Melanoma. It is also said that men are less likely to wear sunscreen and get their skin examined by a dermatologist. Encourage the men in your life to be sun-smart!

While these risks may seem like common sense to some, it is important to remember that every skin cancer and Melanoma case is unique. Such as the example mentioned earlier, where someone may visit a tanning booth regularly, versus someone who rarely goes to the beach - these instances do happen - so it is extremely important to get your skin checked regularly.

Prevention is key. Even the most vigilant individuals can be at risk, so make sure to stay sun-smart and be proactive in protecting your skin!

Related - Click here to read 'Skin Cancer Can Happen at Any Age'

Sources:
  1. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/skin-cancer/risk-factors#heading-Twenty-Four
  2. http://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/SkinInformation/AtoZofSkindisease/SquamousCellCarcinoma.aspx
  3. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/are-you-at-risk

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<![CDATA[​5 Ways to Give Your Skin Extra TLC This Winter]]>Sun, 22 Nov 2015 21:25:02 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/5-ways-to-give-your-skin-extra-tlc-this-winterPicture
Once the Autumn chill begins to blend into the bitter frost of Winter, we find ourselves craving extra layers, warmer drinks, and longer showers. The sharp sting of cold, air, combined with the sudden blast of heat from indoor heating becomes more than irritating- it becomes painful. Some people experience dry, cracked, skin, where others experience tight redness or itchy patches on their extremities. Does this sound familiar?

Aching skin is quite common in colder climates, but why? In colder weather, air loses moisture, and the lack of humidity causes excessive dryness and tightness of the skin. For one, many of us forget that although we are no longer in hot weather, we still need as much hydration in Winter as in Summer. Furthermore, we tend to spend more time in hot showers in order to get a break from the cold. However, this does more harm than good, as the longer the shower, the drier your skin will inevitably be.

Here are 5 ways to give your skin extra TLC this winter:
  1. Shorter Showers: It’s very tempting to stay an extra 10 minutes when you first wake up in a cold house, however spending less time in hot water will do your skin wonders.
  2. Extra moisture: As soon as you step out of the shower or bath, pat yourself dry, keeping your skin a bit damp. Then apply a strong moisturiser on your face and body.
  3. Wear sunscreen! Read about why sunscreen is so important in winter here.
  4. Vaseline: Prevent chapped lips, raw noses, and cracked hands with petroleum jelly by applying Vaseline before stepping out into the cold.
  5. Invest in a humidifier: These helpful machines create moisture in your home, which can prevent you from waking up with a dry nose/throat.


Remember to always cover up and dress appropriately for cold weather. Exposing your skin to extremely cold temperatures can lead to frostbite. Likewise exposing your skin to extreme heat after exposure to the cold, can lead to chillblains, also known as pernio.


Not only can winter be harsh on your skin, it can affect your well-being. Read our post about Seasonal Affective Disorder here.


Sources:
  1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172191.php
  2. http://thecourier.com/local-news/2015/11/21/winter-weather-means-more-skin-care-needed/
  3. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/protect-skin-cold-winter-months-article-1.2438972

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<![CDATA[The Top 5 Places Skin Cancer Can Hide]]>Sun, 08 Nov 2015 22:11:06 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/the-top-5-places-skin-cancer-can-hidePicture
One thing we all know by now is that prevention is the key to dealing with cancer in general, especially skin cancer. However, it is not just about wearing sunscreen, it is about getting yourself examined by a medical professional - a dermatologist.

One way to tell if your dermatologist is providing proper skin exams, is whether or not he/she is actually checking your entire body.  If your routine check-ups are only performed on your arms and legs, then you may want to consider changing doctors. Why? Unfortunately skin cancer and melanoma can hide in areas that receive little cause for concern. So it is extremely important to make sure that all important areas are covered.

The top 5 places skin cancer can hide are listed below:

1. Scalps - If you have a lot of hair, or even a little, cancerous spots can creep up on your scalp. A good number of people forget to wear hats, or use sunscreen to protect their hair partings, and as such- scalps face direct sunlight more than the face. Ask your hair stylist to take note of any moles, spots, or lesions that develop on your scalp, but definitely make sure your dermatologist is keeping track too!

2. Nailbeds - We covered the types of nailbed melanomas here. Be sure to remove any and all nail polishes before going to a skin examination, so your derm can check your nails and between your fingers.

3. Groin - Yes, while this is usually a no-sun zone, melanomas can travel and show themselves in the groin. Any moles or suspicious spots should be checked by your dermatologist, and if they are too uncomfortable to check this area of your body, look for a doctor who will. It could save your life!

4. Armpits - It is possible to develop cancers here, especially if they are traveling to lymph nodes, which is especially dangerous. Make sure you remember to protect these often forgotten areas of the body with sunscreen when you're going swimming or sleeveless in the sun!

5. Feet - Remember Bob Marley? Acral lentiginous Melanoma appeared on his big toe, and because he refused amputation, it spread to his lungs and brain which ultimately took his life. Do not forget to check between toes, and on the bottoms of your feet. This skin is especially sensitive, so be sure it is getting examined!


Skin cancer can hide almost anywhere, because let's face it - you are covered in skin! Always be sure to keep track of suspicious moles anywhere on your body, even in otherwise 'private' areas. A few minutes of being uncomfortable at the dermatologist's office may make all the difference in the world if it means finding a potential skin cancer!

Be sure to get checked regularly by your dermatologist, and know that it is perfectly okay to get second, third, or even fourth opinions!



Remember, it's not just skin cancer when it's the largest organ of your body!
Sources:
  1. http://www.skincancer.org/true-stories/haircut
  2. http://www.emaxhealth.com/101/7216.html
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<![CDATA[Understanding Pediatric Melanoma]]>Mon, 12 Oct 2015 18:10:06 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/understanding-pediatric-melanomaPicture
Previously, we have talked about how skin cancer can happen at any age, and not just for individuals over the age of 50. In fact, many of you responded with what age you were diagnosed, and quite a few were young adults in their early twenties. However, this post is about understanding children and young teens affected by Melanoma.

Although rare, Pediatric Melanoma is on the rise in recent years. It accounts for 2% of all childhood cancers. Unfortunately, much like adult skin cancers, fair-skinned and light-eyed children are at a higher risk than others of developing PM. Pediatric Melanoma still remains somewhat of an enigma in the medical world, as the exact causes are not entirely known. Some children may be genetically predisposed to genetic mutations that cause PM, however it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact reason.

In fact, a recent 2015 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that UV exposure is indeed more of a culprit than previously thought.

So what kind of Pediatric Melanoma is there?
According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, there are 3 main types of pediatric Melanoma to look out for:
  • Conventional Melanoma (CM): Rarely diagnosed before puberty. Similar to Melanoma found in adults, CM includes evidence of UV-induced DNA damage and similar UV-induced mutations (such as the BRAF mutation).
  • Spitzoid Melanoma (SM): Typically nodular in nature, round in shape and uniform in color. Therefore, SM does not typically follow the commonly used ABCDE guide to diagnosing melanoma. Additionally, SMs often lack common adult melanoma genetic mutations.
  • Congenital Melanocytic Nevus (CNM): A CNM is a large, pigmented mole or birthmark that is present at birth. Current research suggests approximately 5-10% of CNM cases develop into melanoma.

Of course while some cases are cleared, there is an increased chance of Melanoma appearing later on in the child’s lifetime. This yields to a life of skin exam checks, sun anxiety, and scarring in excision zones from an early age.

While many strides have been made in the treatment of Pediatric Melanoma, the best chance of living a healthy life lies in strong prevention tactics. In order to prevent Melanoma, and other skin cancers, please remember to protect children and especially babies from direct sunlight.

Be aware of UV exposure every day of the year, and encourage sun-smart behaviour in children. Do not encourage or support teen sunbed usage or tanning, and remain vigilant with sun protection techniques like 30+ SPF sunscreen and UV protective gear.

Sources:
  1. http://www.melanoma.org/understand-melanoma/pediatric-melanoma
  2. http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/cancer-information/cancer-types/childhood-melanoma/index.html

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<![CDATA[Why Redheads Are More Prone to Skin Cancer]]>Sun, 11 Oct 2015 19:33:33 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/why-redheads-are-more-prone-to-skin-cancerPicture
Did you know that redheads make up only about 1-2% of the entire world’s population? Let that sink in for just a moment, because redheads are actually quite rare!

Amazingly, redheaded individuals actually have fewer individual hair strands on their heads than blondes or brunettes. Red hair happens to be thicker, so the difference is somewhat of an illusion, but is also what makes using hair dyes much more difficult.

In order for a child to be a redhead, both biological parents must be carriers of the recessive gene. Furthermore, redheads are usually, but not always, light skinned with freckles. The most rare combination in the world is red hair with blue eyes! Though, most redheads have brown eyes or possess greenish hazel eyes.

Coveted for years throughout history, redheads are popular choices in the arts and advertising industry. Being redheaded seems exciting, but if you do happen to be a redhead, then you may already be aware of the risks associated with being one! While redheads have the natural ability to produce Vitamin D in low-light conditions, it is in intense-light conditions that they become most vulnerable. In fact, natural redheads are 10-100 times more vulnerable to skin cancer than others. But why?

According to BID Medical Center: “A person's skin pigment, which determines hair color and skin tone, is influenced by the melanocortin-1 (MC1R) gene receptor. For the population's one to two percent of redheads, a mutation in MC1R accounts for their red hair color and typical light skin. Now researchers have discovered that the same MC1R mutation responsible for the red hair phenotype also promotes an important cancer-causing pathway.”

And according to the National Institute of Health, “For redheads, the heightened risk of melanoma thus comes from a triple whammy: 1) an inherited form of MC1R, MC1R-RHC, that is less able to produce UV-protective eumelanin; 2) UV-triggered degradation of the PTEN tumor suppressor because of variant MC1R-RHC; 3) a rare somatic mutation in BRAF, potentially also triggered by sun exposure. Together, they set the mutated cell on a pathway toward melanoma.”

This genetic mutation explains why most redheads are unable to tan, and tend to freckle and burn easily when exposed to UV. Thus leading to why they are more prone to cancers of the skin. Unfortunately, it means that redheads must take this into account when spending time in the sun, and go to greater lengths at protecting themselves. Using SPF 30+ and remembering to re-apply as often as possible is very important. Staying out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10am-4pm is also essential!

Sources:
  1. http://directorsblog.nih.gov/2013/09/04/why-redheads-are-more-susceptible-to-melanoma/
  2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822122525.htm


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<![CDATA[You've Booked Your First Dermatology Appointment, Now What?]]>Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:06:24 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/youve-booked-your-first-dermatology-appointment-now-whatPicture
Despite performing a self skin-exam, wearing sunscreen every day of the year, and keeping track of the changes in your skin- the only true way to find out about any suspicious spot is to get a professional skin exam. Maybe you've been asked by a loved one, or perhaps you've been ridden with anxiety yourself.... but you have finally took the plunge and made an appointment with a dermatologist. No matter how you've come to this point, congratulations for taking that first, big step! 

Yes, it is a big step for many, as the stress associated with making dermatologist appointments can be extremely heightened for those who have a family history of skin cancer/melanoma.  Likewise, for those who have regular check-ups every so often after going through any form of skin cancer treatment, it can be harrowing.

So, now that you've booked your appointment, what can you expect? 
It is recommended that before an exam, you remove any and all nail polish, as melanomas can develop under the nailbed.

Normally, when visiting a dermatologist for the first time- the following steps may take place. (Steps and order may vary)

  1. You may be asked 'What brings you here today?' which is a fantastic opportunity to bring up any concerns you have about certain spots or moles on your skin. It is a good idea to write down questions you have ahead of time, as anxiety may cloud memory.
  2. Your doctor will discuss your medical and/or family history with skin cancer/melanoma. If you need any medical terms clarified, make sure you ask.
  3. Usually a 10-15 minute full body examination follows, where you will be thoroughly examined. This usually includes the scalp, between toes, and in the groin area. If you feel uneasy with a whole body examination, it may behoove you to first find a dermatologist you feel most comfortable with to perform the exam.
  4. If there are any suspicious looking spots that your dermatologist believes needs a biopsy, then he/she may remove a sliver of tissue from the questionable area. These results may take a few days to come back, so try your best to remain calm during the waiting period.
  5. Your dermatologist will provide you with more information regarding the types of skin cancers, steps on prevention, and may make a follow-up appointment.

Finally, remember that it is okay to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion if you feel you need to. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the results that come back are not the ones we hope for, however skin cancer is the most treatable cancer. Many strides have been made in the fight against skin cancer/melanoma, and there are a number of treatments now available. 

It is very important to catch any suspicious spots early, and getting a skin exam by a medical professional is the first step!

If you or a loved one have any questionable spots on the skin, schedule a skin exam at your earliest convenience. It may save a life!





Sources:
  1. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/make-the-most-of-your-visit-to-the-dermatologist
  2. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/what-should-i-expect-from-a-full-body-skin-exam
  3. https://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/community-programs-events/spotme-skin-cancer-screenings/what-to-expect-at-a-screening




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<![CDATA[UV Indexes - What Are They and Why Are They Important?]]>Sun, 06 Sep 2015 21:02:35 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/uv-indexes-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-importantPicture
Originally developed by the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Meteorological Organisation, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, and the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection... 

A Solar Ultraviolet index, usually referred to as simply- UV index, is a forecast international standard measurement of the amount of skin damaging UV radiation projected to reach a certain location at a time when the sun is strongest in a given day. 

Each country conforms to the international measuring standard established by the WHO, and most meteorological channels will provide the local UV index for your area. UV Indexes are important to remain aware of just how much UV radiation you are exposed to on any given day, so as to better prevent any skin damage.

Additionally, there are a number of resources online where you can check the daily UV index. A few are listed below:

  • UV Awareness - simply enter your address or location and this website will provide an in-depth 4-day forecast of UV radiation levels in your area. 
  • UV Index by the EPA (US only) -   A full guide on UV Indexes and how they are scientifically calculated.
  • Sunburn Map - UV index provider, that also provides a helpful variation based on skin type. Great for when you want to know how fast you will burn and when to put on sunscreen!


UV indexes run on a sliding scale from 1-11+ with 11+ running the most extreme health risk, 8-10.9 marked as ‘very high’, 6-7.9 as ‘high’ 3-5.9 as ‘moderate’, and 0-2.9 considered ‘low’. Each rank is detailed in the image below, where it is important to note your risks when venturing outside.

If you aren't able to get a UV index, and you're worried about the strength of sun exposure- it may be a good idea to perform the 'shadow test' where a good gauge is as follows: a shadow taller than yourself (usually in the early to mid-morning hours and evening times) is a good indicator of a low UV exposure. Whereas, if your shadow is shorter than you, the UV is quite strong and you should be protected (usually midday hours!)

See the Image below for a comprehensive visual diagram explaining the scale in more detail.

Always be vigilant with UV protection, regardless of the UV index. It may look cloudy, but you are still able to burn regardless of weather and season if you aren't careful!

Picture
Image via UVAwareness.com
Sources:
  1. http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/wxfacts/The-UV-Index.htm
  2. http://www.uvawareness.com/
  3. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/health/public/uvindex#?tab=map&map=MaxUVIndex&zoom=5&lon=-4.00&lat=55.58&fcTime=1441530000
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<![CDATA[Why Sunscreen Should Be At The Top Of Your Back-To-School List]]>Sun, 30 Aug 2015 21:58:54 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/why-sunscreen-should-be-at-the-top-of-your-back-to-school-listPicture
There's a slight scent in the wind, and the days are getting slightly shorter... Autumn is in the air. For many families, back-to-school shopping is underway, and while the season of summer technically does not end until the last couple of weeks of September, many signal the end of summer with the finish of August. However, just because the weather starts getting cooler, does not mean the sun is any less stronger. 

The natural tendency during this time of year, is to pack away ‘Summer clothes’ such as swimsuits and shorts, but unfortunately sunscreen is one item that is tossed away too. The reality is that we must remain vigilant throughout autumn AND winter with our sun protection. This includes not only sunscreen, but also using hats, sunglasses, and keeping an eye on how much direct UV exposure we receive. 

So why should sunscreen be at the top of your back-to-school list?

UV rays remain just as present throughout the end of the year as they do over the summer months, and a good idea is to get into the practice of wearing sunscreen every day. This includes cloudy/rainy days, as clouds do not provide as strong a shield as one would imagine. This is especially true for our children. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, ‘sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent.’ This startling fact is enough to sober any parent and/or teacher. 

The most difficult part about back-to-school is creating a new routine for families. Make sure to find out when and for how long your child is typically outside during the school day and how much shade is available, so that you can prepare them with the right amount of protection. Additionally, find out if your child can wear hats at recess, or bring sunscreen with them to school. It is unfortunate, but many schools do not have proper sun safety policies, so if you become concerned about how much sun exposure your child is receiving, discuss the topic with the school nurse or health education teacher. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, ‘When parents use sun protection such as hats, shade, sunscreen and clothing, their children are more likely to use these sun protection methods too.’ The AAD also has a grant program that helps schools afford to build shaded structures, so research all grant options if your child’s school is unable to provide proper protection. 

Teaching children how to properly apply and maintain sunscreen is a vital step in prevention, so be sure to make your family aware of all courses of action when it comes to sun protection!
 

Sources:

  1. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/children/school
  2. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer/sun-facts-and-evidence#sun_facts8
  3. http://www.asarchcenter.com/a-reminder-about-sun-protection-for-back-to-school/


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<![CDATA[Skin Cancer Can Happen At Any Age]]>Sun, 23 Aug 2015 21:56:57 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/skin-cancer-can-happen-at-any-agePicture
With the latest news of former US President Jimmy Carter's Melanoma treatment, more people are becoming aware of the realities associated with skin cancers. One of those realities, however- seems to go relatively unnoticed. The majority of people tend to believe that skin cancer/melanoma only happens to those aged 50 and over, or is something that only "old" people get. The stark reality is, many young adults can and do get skin cancer, and it is definitely not something to be taken lightly.

In fact, the American Cancer Society found about 7% of the Melanoma cases in 2014 happened to people 34 and under. Not only that, but since the 1970s, Melanoma rates have risen 250% in young adults and children. It is quite obvious that skin cancer definitely does not discriminate based on age!
Furthermore, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation, Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women aged 25-30. If you're wondering why it happens to be more women than men in this age group, consider the target market for the tanning industry. 

Interestingly enough, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes "Before age 50, melanoma incidence rates are higher in women than in men, but by age 60, rates are twice as high in men as in women"
Some suggest that the reasoning behind this is due to the fact that as men age, they are less likely to see a dermatologist about a suspicious spot on their skin. Women, on the other hand, tend to keep track of changes in their skin as they age. Most likely due to the fact that they are being marketed anti-aging cosmetics by the beauty industry.


So how do we raise awareness on the topic of skin cancer versus age group?

The answer is to start educating children early about being sun-safe while promoting healthy self-esteem. Unfortunately, many teens and young adults feel pressured to tan to look 'better' when in reality, they are doing harm to themselves. If the 'healthy' discussion isn't successful, then approach the topic of how quickly tanning ages the skin and causes wrinkling/sun-spots. It is also a good idea to find out how and if schools in your area include sun-safety in their health education programs. 

If you are a young adult, encourage your friends to learn more about the dangers of tanning, and suggest sunless tanning alternatives. We listed some helpful tips in this post on this very topic!

Sometimes, all it takes is one personal conversation with someone to make a difference. 

While treatments for skin cancer and melanoma are advancing, it is still a very difficult process for anyone at any age. Survival rates are very high if caught early, but skin cancers are incredibly dangerous if left untreated. Always seek professional medical advice if you are unsure of a suspicious spot on your skin.



Sources:
  1. http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/news/20150414/skin-cancer-young_adults
  2. http://www.skincancer.org/news/melanoma/melanoma-young-adults-2012
  3. https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/conditions/skin-cancer

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<![CDATA[Rare Melanomas of the Nails]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 03:45:50 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/rare-melanomas-of-the-nailsPicture
In one of our previous posts, we talked about Ocular Melanoma and eye freckles. Today, we are discussing Melanoma that forms under the nailbed. Nails and hair often reflect the status of our health, and if neglected, may lead to issues down the road. Therefore, it important to always be on the lookout for any changes in our skin, including our scalps and nailbeds! 

You may recall a popular Reggae musician, Bob Marley, who left a legacy of talent behind when he met his untimely death in 1981 at the early age of 36. While many know of his music, not many know of what caused his premature death, and the answer is, Melanoma. 

At the time, Marley believed a pain in his toe to be caused by a sports injury, however the actual case was much more sinister. Acral lentiginous Melanoma, which started appearing on Marley's big toe, later metastasized to his lungs and brain after he refused amputation treatment. Unfortunately, this is what lead to his death.

Acral Melanoma appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, as opposed to under the nails, but is thought to be related. These skin cancers are thought to be attributed to genetics and not so much UV exposure, and tend to occur often in those with darker complexions, and in people of color. However, anyone is susceptible. 

Melanoma that appears under the nailbeds are quite rare, but are nonetheless serious. Acral Melanoma appears mostly in the big toe and thumb, but can form under any finger or toe's nailbed.

It is important to note the three main categories of nailbed Melanoma. 

  • Subungual Melanoma (originating from the nail matrix) 
  • Ungual Melanoma (originating from under the nail plate) 
  • Periungual Melanoma (originating from the skin beside the nail plate)

So what are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of nailbed Melanoma are brown to black streaks/lines or raised strips of nail, chronic and/or reoccurring pain in digits that have suffered trauma in the past (such as broken toes/fingers), and lifting of the nails. If the affected area of the nailbed has spread to cuticles or skin surrounding the nail, darkening it or making it painful, it is very important to have it professionally examined. 

These types of Melanoma also tends to appear in people aged 45 and up, but can occur at any age. If you think that you may have any of the above symptoms, or know someone who might, schedule a medical exam as soon as possible. These Melanomas, while typically small, can spread at a very rapid rate. 

Treatments vary by each case, as with any Melanoma... but may involve surgical removal of the nail, partial or full amputation of the digit, and so on. While this Melanoma is not usually connected to UV exposure, it is essential to keep hands and feet protected, and record any changes in appearance to your hands/feet.


Sources:
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3663335/
  2. http://www.dermnetnz.org/hair-nails-sweat/melanoma-nailunit.html
  3. http://www.med.nyu.edu/surgery/oncology/patient-care/melanoma/special-situations/subungual-nail-bed
  4. http://www.disabled-world.com/health/cancer/melanoma/acral-melanoma.php
  5. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nail-abnormalities/Pages/Introduction.aspx



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<![CDATA[The Only 'Safe Tan' is a Fake One]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 05:03:43 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/the-only-safe-tan-is-a-fake-onePicture
One of the biggest challenges in the skin cancer awareness community is that of the tanning bed industry. We fight to keep them regulated, we fight to ban them, and we fight to raise awareness about the lies the industry sells to their customers. It's a struggle, but we've made big strides in recent years, not unlike the lung cancer awareness community versus the smoking industry.


Unfortunately, the route of the tanning industry's success lies within the beauty and fashion industry. Quite a number of fashion advertisements have pictured the standard of beauty being a certain shade of skin, leaving many to darken or bleach their skin to achieve these dangerous 'ideals'. We are constantly being sold the idea of changing ourselves, of altering our natural beauty... and sometimes the means to such goals can become an addiction.

Tanning beds have been considered addictive to many, and the industry preys on ignorance of the true dangers they pose. Many of those who visit tanning salons regularly, are either unaware of the risks, and/or simply think skin cancer/melanoma will not happen to them. However, there is a vast amount of research available that explains just how dangerous tanning beds are, and how important sun-safety really is! 


While it is essential to know the dangers of tanning beds, please also be aware of the plentiful 'safe' tanning alternatives that are now widely available that do not require UV light.
 

If you simply must have a tan, and want to be safe, there are three major alternatives to consider.

1. Spray Tanning. These 'fake' tans are quite literally painted on the skin, using airbrush techniques. They usually require going to a salon, or you can hire a mobile professional spray tan stylist/technician. Organic spray tans are now widely popular, as they do not contain chemicals that some may find harmful. 

2. Sunless Tanning Lotions. Commonly bought over-the-counter, these lotions are less intense than spray tans, as they build up a gradual layered tan over time. These lotions may be in the form of oils, sprays, or spritz bottle formulas, and can be self-administered. 

3. Bronzers. A number of cosmetic items now have what is marketed as a 'bronze' effect that works to put a dark or golden tint on the skin. Commonly found in foundations, moisturizers, and powders, these cosmetics give the illusion of a 'tan' and are very faint and very temporary. 

Please be aware that these are all sunless tanning alternatives because they do not require UV or direct sun exposure. The only safe tan is a fake one! 

If you know someone who uses tanning beds regularly, it may be wise to direct them to safer alternatives such as these, as it may save their life. 


Sources:
  1. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Skin_cancer_tanning
  2. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun/sunless-tanning
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sunless-tanning/art-20046803

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<![CDATA[Allergic To The Sun? It's Not A Joke!]]>Mon, 10 Aug 2015 04:31:14 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/allergic-to-the-sun-its-not-a-jokePicture
Some of us sun- sensitive folks may joke about being ‘vampires’ because we are pale and vulnerable to the sunlight. Some may even laugh about being ‘allergic’ to the sun. But did you know there is an actual name for this allergic reaction? It’s called Polymorphic Light Eruption, PMLE or PLE for short ... And it’s not a joke! 

PLE is a reddish pink, itchy and burning skin rash that can take many forms(blisters, bumps, raised patches), and is not to be confused with prickly heat. Prickly heat is associated with an overheating of the body in hot weather, but PLE is a reaction to sun exposure and/or direct UV light exposure. More common in women, PLE usually starts after puberty, and can affect individuals for years into adulthood. Like most sun damage, this skin rash tends to affect those who are fairer in skin and hair colour than those who aren’t, although PLE has been known to affect those with darker complexions. Currently, PLE affects around 10% of the population. 

Those who suffer with PLE may have a variation of rash patterns that range from mild to severe, which can be quite disruptive to daily activities. It only takes about 20 minutes of direct sun exposure to trigger a reaction, and rashes may last throughout an entire summer season. Those with milder cases may only have a breakout for a few hours, and it may only occur a few times during their life. 
Like other skin conditions, PLE can be genetic and run in families. It is not contagious, however. 

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for PLE, but the best practice to prevent the condition from flaring up, is to remain sun-smart. This means using proper sun protection of SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen, staying out of direct sunlight between the hours of 11AM-3PM, and wearing UV protective clothing. 

If you suffer with PLE, or believe that you may have more than just a typical reaction to sunlight, please contact your dermatologist. There are some prescription ointments and steroid creams available depending on the severity of the condition, and there are a few sunscreen products available that help cease rash development. Additionally, there are a number of support groups available online.

 

Sources:
  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/polymorphous-light-eruption/basics/risk-factors/con-20030452
  2. http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/polymorphic-light-eruption
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polymorphic-light-eruption/Pages/Introduction.aspx


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<![CDATA[Eye Freckles and Ocular Melanoma]]>Sun, 26 Jul 2015 21:13:35 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/eye-freckles-and-ocular-melanomaPicture
We all know that freckles and moles are quite common on our skin. In fact, we regularly mention how important it is to keep track of them! 

Some people may have more pronounced freckles than others, depending on their genetics or exposure to the sun, but did you know that there are also freckles of the eye? Freckles of the eye are sometimes referred to as 'Choroidal Nevi' (plural) or 'Choroidal Nevus' (singular). They are flat and pigmented areas that appear in the back of the eyes, and occur in about 1 out of 10 adults. They can appear in the Iris, Sclera, and/or Conjunctiva.  

If you've had an eye exam, your doctor may possibly refer to these freckles as "lesions" in your eye, and may also want to keep a record of any changes they make in the future.
The reason for keeping track of these nevi is that in some rare cases, like freckles and moles on the skin, they evolve into what is known as Ocular Melanoma. According to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation, "Statistically, of every 500 choroidal nevi, one will undergo malignant transformation if followed for 10 years." Ocular Melanoma is rare, but is very serious.


If your doctor spots a nevus, and it looks suspicious (depending on size and behaviour), your doctor may refer you to an eye cancer specialist. Further testing may be necessary, and ultrasounds may be required. Depending on how serious the situation, size, pigmentation, and thickness will be measured, and fluid leakage will be monitored. It is also very important to take note of the following:

  • Changes in eye freckle shape or color
  • Pain in the eye
  • Vision difficulties
  • Spots in vision or 'floaters'


If these symptoms occur, it is best to get your eyes examined as soon as possible.

For the most part, however, choroidal nevi are benign and rarely require treatment. It is important that you remember to get regular eye exams, just like it is important to get routine skin exams. Not all eye freckles are visible to us, as some may appear in the back of the eye which can only be viewed with medical equipment.


Research suggests that these eye freckles are due to UV exposure, as they show up later in life and generally in the eyes of fair-skinned individuals. Therefore, it is another essential reason to wear UV protective sunglasses when exposed to the sun. As always, prevention is key!


Sources:
  1. http://www.ocularmelanoma.org/choroidalnevus.htm
  2. http://www.eyecancer.com/conditions/5/choroidal-nevus
  3. http://www.beautyzion.com/freckles/eye-freckle-cancer-removal-pictures-freckles-back-white-eye/

Freckles of the Eye
Image Source: http://www.beautyzion.com/freckles/eye-freckle-cancer-removal-pictures-freckles-back-white-eye/
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<![CDATA[Essential Skin Cancer Resources You Need to Know About]]>Sun, 19 Jul 2015 20:35:27 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/essential-skin-cancer-resources-you-need-to-know-aboutPicture
The Internet is a wonderful place... you can research any topic, anytime, anywhere! It has definitely changed the course of our lifetime and for generations to come. Even smart phones have allowed us to be constantly connected, which can be brilliant when you need to know something at any given moment.

However, with the span of access and the ability for anyone to create websites, it is very important that we know who we can trust when it comes to medical research. In most cases, the general rule is that the information you obtain is provided by sources that properly cite their information from medical journals and scientific studies. 

It is also very important that when reading up on studies, you familiarize yourself with the terminology that is written. It is unfortunate, but many websites masquerade under the 'alternative health' category, and claim to cite studies which have been taken out of context. It may seem reliable, but once you truly read the actual study, words have been exaggerated or information has been purposely withheld.

These so called 'articles' also like to create what is now referred to as "clickbait" posts, where they sensationalise headlines to intrigue readers to click on the link provided. Sometimes, these posts may not even contain relevant information, or they are written in such a dramatic way that they seem believable to anyone who does not properly know how to research information on the Internet.


So this begs the question- who can we trust? 

Whether you are on the quest to know more about skin cancer for yourself, for someone you love, or just in general, the following websites are the best sources of information and cite their articles properly. (Click the links to go directly to the source!)

1. The Skin Cancer Foundation. Their mission is clearly stated, "The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only international organization devoted solely to education, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment of the world’s most common cancer." They were founded in 1979, and are a brilliant resource for all skin cancer topics, including the latest news in treatments. 

2. The Melanoma Research Foundation. According to their mission statement: "The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is leading the melanoma community to transform melanoma from one of the deadliest cancers to one of the most treatable through research, education and advocacy." Rightly so, with popular and effective campaigns like the #GetNaked for Melanoma movement, their efforts have made brilliant strides in advocacy.

3. AIM at Melanoma. With "AIM at Melanoma is globally engaged and locally invested in advancing the battle against melanoma through innovative research, legislative reform, education, and patient and caregiver support." as their mission statement, they have illustrated a great effort in research and provide a number of support resources.

4. The British Skin Foundation. They describe themselves as the UK's only charity dedicated to skin research, with "unwavering commitment to funding quality research means we won't stop until we've found cures for common skin problems like eczema and acne through to potential killers like malignant melanoma." The BSF has great information about ALL skin related diseases, not just skin cancers.

When researching, remember that the best information comes from educational and professional medical and scientific sources. Another tip is to keep in mind whether or not the information comes from non-profit or 'for-profit' sources. 

As always, your best bet is to consult with your medical doctor, as every situation is different. 

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<![CDATA[How To Apply Sunscreen The Right Way]]>Sun, 12 Jul 2015 20:33:06 GMThttp://www.mole-monitor.com/blog/how-to-apply-sunscreen-the-right-wayPicture
Perhaps you are perplexed as to why you got sunburned after you remembered to wear sunscreen. You're frustrated and you've seen everyone slathering on the sunscreen at the beach just as you have... and maybe you did everything the directions told you- but could it be that you just missed a small detail, and that is what caused your skin to burn? 

Don't fret, this post is about how to apply sunscreen the right way, so that you don't get burned again!

First things first. Make sure you have the right kind of sunscreen. The best kind will be sunscreen that is broad-spectrum coverage. This means that it will protect you from both UVA (those that age you) and UVB (those that burn you) sun rays. It will also have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and it will also be water/sweat resistant. Please, remember to check if the sunscreen is past its expiry date!

Next, you will want to know when to apply your sunscreen.
The best time to apply sunscreen is at least 30 minutes before you plan to go outside or be exposed to direct sunlight. So, remember to put on the sunscreen before you set up on the beach.

Now, how much do you need? A good guide is to use about a shot-glass' worth of sunscreen for each part of the body. If you're not quite sure about the amount that is in a shot glass, it's roughly the same amount that would cover the length of an adult's first and second fingers. 

Below is a picture that illustrates just how much to use, and where.


Picture
Image Credit: https://www.kinsahealth.com/health-bytes/2014/07/03/til-thursday-sunscreen-101/

A good thing to remember is that all exposed skin is the most vulnerable, and that includes your lips, eyes, and scalp. So please do wear sunglasses with UV protection, lip balm with SPF 15 or higher, and wear a hat (or remember to cover visible scalp tissue with sunscreen!) Yes, even people with very thick hair can still get sunburned on their scalps.

Finally, and this tip is incredibly important, remember to re-apply. Many people tend to think that because they have a sunscreen with a high level of SPF, that they only need to apply once and they will be fine for the entire day. 
Unfortunately, sunscreen does wear off, therefore a good rule to practice is to remember to re-apply every two hours. OR, immediately after swimming, bathing, and/or sweating. It may be a good idea to re-apply after towel-drying excessively as you may rub off sunscreen. 

If you're still not entirely sure about either a) your choice of sunscreen, b) how much you need, or c) when to wear it - a good idea is to ask your dermatologist for advice.

Remember that it's good practice to wear sunscreen every day (yes, even on cloudy days!)


Sources:
  1. https://www.kinsahealth.com/health-bytes/2014/07/03/til-thursday-sunscreen-101/
  2. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/general-skin-care/sun-protection/how-to-apply-sunscreen
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