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A Quick Note from Dr. Caroleigh Elliott

Summertime in Portland

It’s time for a mid-year check-in. It’s almost summer, hopefully that means more time outdoors being active and reconnecting with family and friends. Be sure to take care of your health with a little dose of vitamin D (that means no sunscreen for a short time) and then protecting yourself from UV radiation with a good sunscreen.
How do I monitor my sun exposure? I am a fan of the app, dMinder, it helps you to monitor your Vitamin D levels and sun exposure, related to where you are in the world, what the weather is like and what clothing you are wearing, not to mention your skin tone and recent blood draw levels.
And what is a good sunscreen? That’s a tough one. A (small) recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) stated the UV blockers, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are considered safe and effective, but for 12 of the ingredients, all UV Absorbers, including three popular ones included in the current study (avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene), there was not enough data to determine whether or not they are safe and effective.
It is always prudent to follow the Slip, Slap, Slide, Slop summer protocol: Slip on some awesome, 100% UV blocking shades to go with your cooling UV protected clothing; Slap on a stylish wide-brimmed hat; Slide into the shade, especially in the mid day sun; and Slop on some sunscreen.
Please be mindful of your choices and if you have questions about some of the options, I’d be happy to help guide you.
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Holidays Planned
I have two, week-long holidays planned: one for a family reunion in early July and one to go home to Canada at the beginning of August. You may use the online schedule to book ahead to ensure your favorite day/time.
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Yoga
I am pleased to announce that I have completed the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. What does this mean? Honestly, I’m not quite sure! To start, I have made available Tuesday mornings for Therapeutic Exercises and private yoga sessions. Whether you are a nervous beginner or an experienced yogi, a private yoga session(s) will be customized to your specific health care needs. By deepening your yoga practice, you not only build strength and flexibility but condition your body to prevent future injuries.
I’d also like to incorporate workshops that focus on spinal alignment and movement. If you are interested or curious, let me know. Your insurance company may cover some of the costs of the therapeutic yoga sessions as part of your health care.
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“Wellness encompasses a healthy body, a sound mind and a tranquil spirit. Enjoy the journey as you strive for wellness.” ~Laurette Gagnon Beaulieu
I am so grateful to have to opportunity to join you on your journey.
Dr. Caroleigh Elliott

Looking for a good sunscreen?

Sunscreens help shield you from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays in two ways. Some work by scattering the light, reflecting it away from your body. Others absorb the UV rays before they reach your skin.

A few years ago, choosing a good sunscreen meant you just looked for a high sun protection factor (SPF) — which rates how well the sunscreen protects against one type of cancer-causing UV ray, ultraviolet B (UVB.) “SPF refers to blockage of UVB rays only,” says Leffell.

Research soon showed that ultraviolet A rays (UVA) also increase skin cancer risk. While UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, they penetrate deeply into skin and cause wrinkles. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90% of skin changes associated with aging are really caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays.

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Your best protection is to avoid the hottest / highest sun

So which is the best sunscreen for you? Clearly, you’ll want a sunscreen with broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum protection for both UVB and UVA. Ingredients with broad-spectrum protection include benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates,titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX).

  • SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection. The SPF factor rates how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays. If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning.For the vast majority of people, SPF 15 is fine, Leffell tells WebMD. But people who have very fair skin, a family history of skin cancer, or conditions like lupus that increase sensitivity to sunlight should consider SPF 30 or higher.
    Keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the smaller the increased benefit: contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn’t twice as strong as SPF 15. While SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters out 97%, only a slight improvement.
  • UVA protection. There is no rating to tell you how good a sunscreen is at blocking UVA rays, says Leffell. So when it comes to UVA protection, you need to pay attention to the ingredients.Look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following, Leffell says: ecamsule, avobenzone,oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. Any of those should do the trick.

 

  • Water and sweat resistance. If you’re going to be exercising or in the water, it’s worth getting a sunscreen resistant to water and sweat.But understand what this really means. The FDA defines water resistant sunscreen as meaning that the SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes in the water. Very water resistant means it holds after 80 minutes of swimming. These sunscreens are in no way water-proof, so you’ll need to reapply them regularly if you’re taking a dip.

 

  • A brand you like. Even if a brand is recommended by all the experts, if you don’t like it, you’re not going to use it, says Karrie Fairbrother, RN, president-elect of the Dermatology Nurses Association. Personal preference is really important.

Confused yet?  The Enviromental Working Group is here to help you out!  Every year, the Group rates many different sunscreens on their effectiveness, the make up and their staying power.

Check out their SUNSCREEN REPORT FOR 2018 (2019 wasn’t release at the time of writing).

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Thank you EWG for your hard work!

 

 

Skin Cancer Annual Stats 2019

The American Cancer Society has released its annual statistics report for 2019, giving us even more reason to step up our sun-care routine.

This year’s report found that skin cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma skin cancer diagnoses continue to rise. In 2019, new cases of melanoma are expected to increase by about 5.7 percent, from 91,270 news cases in 2018 to a projected estimate of 96,479 new cases in 2019.

“More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, [and] skin cancer incidence — including both melanoma and non-melanoma — has been on the rise,” says Elizabeth Goldberg, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. “[But] there is one positive way to interpret these statistics: We’re finding more skin cancer because more people are getting screened for skin cancers than ever before, which shows that awareness efforts are working.”

What Do the Findings Mean?

In other words, all that preaching we constantly do about slathering on sunscreen and seeing your dermatologist every year for a skin screening? It’s working. Not exactly, but you know what we’re saying — more people seeing their doctors for screenings is resulting in a greater number of melanoma cases being diagnosed, rather than flying under the radar.

While this is not necessarily bad news, more diagnoses could mean that people are generally becoming more educated about the warning signs for melanoma, as well as getting screened. Perhaps even more hopeful is the finding that while melanoma is being diagnosed more, the death rate for the disease is expected to decrease by 22 percent in 2019.

How to Spot Skin Cancer

Advancing technology aside, it still pays off to be vigilant. A quick refresher on the ABCDEs of melanoma, which dermatologists “regularly use to teach patients about what to look for,” according to Park.

A is for asymmetryB is for border (which may be uneven or irregular), C is for color (white, red, and blue can signal irregularity, and color can also have shades of tan, brown, or black), D is for diameter (per the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma is usually the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but it can be smaller), and E is for evolution, which means that the mole changes in shape and appearance over time. Keep an eye on your skin — it’s your largest organ — and if you notice any of these signs, book an appointment with your dermatologist.

The Takeaway: Early Detection Is Crucial

OK, but what does this all mean for you? Both can benefit from early detection and treatment. More on what to look out for: melanomas often resemble moles, and they’re most commonly found on the trunk in men, legs in women, and upper back of both genders. SCC is most commonly found in areas exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, the face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms, and legs. These look like scaly red patches, open sores, or elevated growths that can crust or bleed.

If you believe you have one (or more) of these early signs, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist for a skin check. Better yet, make an appointment right now — you can never be too safe.

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From the Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Article adapted from Allure Magazine, see full article here

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May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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PS, While I can’t diagnose skin cancer (out of my scope of practice), I do see a lot of skin.  I am happy to take pictures or those hard to see places of “suspects” for you to send on to your primary care.

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May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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