It’s May :: Time to give your skin a once over

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In 2007 alone, over 58,000 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, with 8,000 people dying from melanomas of the skin.  Dr. Ariel Ostad, a New York City Dermatologist, says “as the summer season approaches, people are beginning to get the ‘itch’ to head into the sun.”, especially after such a long winter season. Dr. Ostad says three key actions can help make sun exposure safer: prevent, detect and treat skin cancer as early as possible. Education is key, as well as acceptance – many patients avoid having their skin screened or treated due to fear or embarrassment – Dr. Ostad notes that getting over any personal issues associated with sun exposure will help keep your skin healthy for your entire life.  Below, Dr. Ostad offers easy to understand tips and suggestions for those looking to enjoy the summer season safely:

Everything You Need to Know About Sun Protection
With virtually hundreds of sun protection options available at your local drugstore or department store, Dr. Ostad notes there are several important ingredients one should look for when seeking full spectrum coverage and protection:
Micronized Zinc Oxide: For broad spectrum UV protection (including UVA rays). This also has soothing effects for skin irritations, and antimicrobial properties
Titanium Dioxide: An excellent absorber of sun rays (both UVA and UVAB rays), it provides long-term UV-protection and is water resistant
Niacin: This ingredient is clinically shown to visibily improve skin tone, texture and hyperpigmentation
Vitamin E: Helps heal and protect the skin

Know Your SPF :: not all  are created equal : Dr. Ostad says it is important to use at least SPF 30 regardless of your skin type or color. According to Dr. Ostad, “sunscreens should be applied to exposed areas 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors.” When using sunscreen, Dr. Ostad also notes to pay special attention to your face, ears, hands and arms, which are sometimes forgotten or not properly covered. One ounce, about the amount in a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the body properly – don’t skimp on your sunscreen! Dr. Ostad adds that it is also a known fact that any SPF over 30 is negligible in protection.

Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D: Many people tout the sun’s ability to help our body absorb vitamin D. According to Dr. Ostad, “it is important to get 20 minutes of direct sun per day, which will allow our bodies to absorb the normal level of vitamin D needed.” You should be careful to avoid the sun during the hours of 10am – 3pm, when the sun is strongest.

Detecting Skin Cancer
Dr. Ostad recommends people have a thorough skin exam every year to detect and prevent the three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. According to Dr. Ostad, “you can also look at your own skin spots regularly and be very attentive to any changes or growth. A melanoma can be effectively treated if detected early.” Some melanomas can occur in areas that are covered by hair or clothing, making them difficult to self-examine.

The ABCD’s of Moles & Melanoma
Most people have some skin marks, such as freckles, moles, birthmarks. Some of these marks may be the signs of skin cancer. Warning signs of melanoma include:
· Asymmetry: Melanomas are usually characterized by an irregular and asymmetrical shape. This means that one half of the spot does not match the other half.
· Border: The edges of the old mole may turn scalloped or rough. New skin spots with undefined borders may also appear.
· Color: Existing or new fast growing moles with uneven coloring (various shades of brown or black, colorless areas) are the first signs of skin cancer. These spots may later become red, blue or white.
· Diameter: Early melanoma spots usually are greater than 6mm in diameter.

How Does a Mole Change?
Dr. Ostad notes that you should also watch for possible changes in moles:
· You may notice that new spots or existing skin moles may start to grow fast.
· Melanomas come in a wide variety of colors. An early sign of skin cancer is the color distribution; color spreads from the borders of the mole into the surrounding skin area.
· Moles that are usually flat begin to grow vertically.
· Inflammation may occur on the surrounding skin area of a new, pigmented skin formation.
· Melanoma formation is characterized by the change in the surface of a mole including an erosion, oozing, scaliness, and even bleeding.
· The most common sign of skin cancer is an itching sensation in the infected areas. Skin cancers are usually painless, but some people with melanomas may rarely experience little pain and tenderness.

Malignant Melanoma is the number one cause of death from cancer in women in there 20’s to 30’s.

Skin Cancer Treatment
Dr. Ostad is a fellow of the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery, which is a cutting-edge procedure designed for removing skin cancer. Dr. Ostad utilizes a high precision microscope to examine tissue and assist in the complete removal of the cancer. With the precision of this technique, it is possible to removal all cancer cells with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy skin.

Mohs micrographic surgery is typically performed under local anesthesia in Dr. Ostad’s office and the recovery process is minute compared to most surgeries.

Benefits of Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Up to a 99% cure rate
The lowest chance of tumor re-growth (compared to other methods of skin cancer treatment)
Low potential for scarring or disfigurement
Most accurate method of tumor removal

About Dr. Ariel Ostad, MD
Dr. Ostad is a board certified Dermatologist and Cosmetic Surgeon, a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and a Fellow of the American Association of Cosmetic Surgery. He is also a member of the American Academy of Dermatologic Surgery, the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology, the Skin Cancer Foundation, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. He received his B.A. magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1987 from New York University. In 1991, Dr. Ostad received his M.D. from New York University School of Medicine. He went on to do an internship at Harvard Medical School, and completed his residency in Dermatology at New York University Medical Center in 1995. He completed a fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery, laser and dermatologic surgery at UCLA.

Dr. Ostad is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at New York University Medical Center, and a former contributing editor to the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery. He has authored numerous articles on topics including chemical peeling agents, hair follicle stem cells, liposuction, and laser surgery, and has written textbook chapters in Cutaneous Oncology (Blackwell 1998). He is also a co-author of a textbook entitled Practical Management of Skin Cancer (Lippincott-Raven, 1998). Dr. Ostad is also a course instructor for the American Academy of Dermatology, and is frequently called on to lecture on laser surgery and skin cancer.

Dr. Ostad has recently received an Honorable Award from President Barack Obama for his Service and Civic Participation in Dermatology and Volunteerism.





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