Sunshine State Safety

Florida has long been nicknamed ‘The Sunshine State’, and we all know why- blazing sunshine and temperatures into the 90’s almost all year round. As many Floridians say to their Northerner relatives and friends, “We live where you take vacation!” Living in Florida, however, makes us Floridians extremely prone to many types of skin cancer as we are constantly exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. As we age, the likelihood to be diagnosed goes up as sun exposure has a cumulative effect on the skin. More days at the beach translate into more exposure to harmful rays.

Dr. Chris Balamucki, a Radiation Oncologist at The Cancer Center of NFRMC.

Dr. Chris Balamucki, a Radiation Oncologist at The Cancer Center of NFRMC.

Dr. Christopher Balamucki is a Radiation Oncologist at The Cancer Center of North Florida Regional Medical Center. Balamucki received his Medical Degree at Wake Forest School of Medicine and completed his Radiation Oncology Residency at the University of Florida. While he is dedicated to treating patients with various kinds of cancer, his passion is sharing information wherever and whenever he can about how to prevent cancer. In a recent talk at The Village Retirement Community in Gainesville, Dr. Balamucki was able to offer a lot of information on different types of skin cancer, how to recognize and treat it and, most importantly, how to prevent it. Attendees said they learned a lot from Dr. Balamucki. Here is some of what he shared with them.

Give Me the Stats.With more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed in over 2 million people per year, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. To break that down- roughly 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed in their lifetime, according to Dr. Balamucki. The cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined are still less than those of skin cancer! This large amount of cases may be in part because of the wide range of skin cancers that exist, which range in commonality and aggressiveness. Dr. Balamucki discussed these cancers in the order from most to least common: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

balamucki-presentation

Identifying and Treating.Dr. Balamucki offered up a great recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation: do a routine monthly self-examination. In doing a self-examination, you will be able to identify new or changing skin lesions and promptly schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. It is important to do this because it can help you catch skin cancer at its early stages, and early skin cancers have a 90 to 95 percent cure rate. After you see your dermatologist, the doctor will assess the skin lesion and determine if it can be treated there or if you need to go to a Radiation Oncology clinic for treatment. Dermatologists have many forms of treatment. After a shave biopsy is completed, a dermatologist can perform one of many treatment options. If there is potential for a poor cosmetic result of the surgery or if the dermatologist is not able to completely remove the skin cancer, which is when the patient will typically be referred to a Radiation Oncologist.

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prevention is the Name of the Game. With so many different types of skin cancer, it is so crucial to do everything you can to prevent a possible diagnosis. Obviously, living in Florida makes it almost impossible to avoid sun exposure completely. However, if you can, try to limit your exposure. If you’re at the beach, spend some time in the sun but take a break and sit under an umbrella for a while. When you know you will be in the sun, wear at least 30 SPF and constantly reapply it. Lastly, avoid tanning beds! They are extremely harmful and have been linked strongly to skin cancer. So as a Floridian, it is important that as we enjoy the year round sunshine, we make sure that we take all the precautions to keep our skin safe and healthy!

Just One Thing – Let’s Talk Skin Cancer

One of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun. That’s a pretty difficult task for us Floridians, though. Even when we’re not baking in the sun, we expose ourselves to its harmful rays every day – even on days like today when there are tons of clouds in the sky!

Staying out of the sun is difficult for everyone, not just Floridians. And that’s probably why more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over 2 million people are diagnosed annually.

It’s scary to think about, but it’s too scary not to think about. If you’d rather not be a part of those numbers, join us on July 21 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for our next Healthy Aging program at The Village. Radiation Oncologist Dr. Christopher Balamucki will explain everything from prevention to early diagnosis to treatment trends. Visit the events section of our website to learn more.

If you’re jumping out of your skin thinking about all this, the answer is simple. Join us on July 21. Just One Thing to Think About.

Feed Your Face Follow-Up #2: A Spot Of Tea

As promised, I’m continuing my reports as I follow the tips I read online about 5 foods to use to Feed Your Face to make your skin healthier. Each of the tips recommends a way to eat or drink the food and then another way to apply said ingredient to your skin. Last week, I tried pumpkin. This week, it’s a tip for tea….

Green Tea, That Is!

Like many of us who love a nice cuppa, I think of it as about relaxing. And it is, but research shows it’s more than that. Green tea has apparently got bunches of inflammation-fighting antioxidants. The online article I’m working from quotes research from Case Western Reserve University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham that shows drinking green tea may reduce our risk of skin cancer. If you add some citrus juice, the tea’s antioxidants are in your body longer rather than being digested quickly and having much of the goodness go down the drain. The part about citrus is from Purdue University researchers.

So, I enjoyed a nice cup of green tea with mandarin orange at my office. That way, I got the physical benefits from the tea and the relaxation benefits, too. Now, I just have to make drinking my green tea quite a habit. According to experts in weight management up at the University of Pittsburgh, it will take at least three big mugs of green tea every day for an antioxidant boost. to be honest, drinking that much is probably not going to happen for me. But surely some is better than none. I can see myself sticking to the pumpkin tip much more than the green tea tip.

Wait! Don’t Throw Out Those Tea Bags!

Just as it was with the pumpkin, there is a second step. After drinking the tea, you don’t just throw away the tea bags. Directions are to chill damp tea bags in the fridge and put on your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes. Green tea contains tannins, which act as an astringent when applied to skin and can help reduce puffiness. Anything that makes puffiness go away sounds good to me.

More next week from another recommendation to Feed Your Face for Healthier Skin. In the meantime, consider looking at the online article if you haven’t already. Just click on the link below.
Happy Friday!

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20481238_7,00.html

Just One thing: Start With Your Skin Type

As part of our Spotlight Series on Healthy Skin all during the month of June, we want to share thoughts about where to start.

Do you know your skin type?

Yes, no, maybe? If you are feeling confused, remember that you are not alone. Most of us misdiagnose our skin type, and that means the products and processes we follow can be a little bit off or they can be way off. That can translate into blemishes and looking older than we really are.

There are five basic skin types – normal, dry, oily, combination and sensitive. Figuring out which you have is the place to start for healthy skin. Don’t forget that skin type can change over time. So, if it’s been awhile since you contemplated this, you might want to take another look. Check this month’s Spotlight Series posts to help you figure it out and get started.

You wouldn’t put just any octane of gasoline in your car without first knowing which is intended to keep it running right, would you? The same logic applies to your skin. Know your type. Just one thing to think about.

Healthy Skin: Where to Start

Do You Know Your Skin Type?

Knowing our skin type is absolutely necessary in order to make a right decision about proper skin care or treatment, which is suitable for our particular skin needs. The initial quality, or type, of our skin is genetically determined – meaning that we are born with it. However, the health and beauty of our skin later in life depends a lot on what we eat and how 23 take care of yourself. A popular Russian saying states that, after the age of 30, a woman looks the way she deserves. I don’t know about you, but I am way past 30 and hoping it’s not too late to get started. So….

Let’s Get Started!

The first step in having Healthy Skin is to determine your skin type so that you can match it with the best recommended methods to improve your look and slow the aging process. Yes! Let’s slow that aging process.

Generally, we can single out five basic skin types with each having particular characteristics and requiring specific care and/or treatment. It’s also important to remember that your skin type can change over time. For example, younger people are more likely than older people to have a normal skin type. So, the basic skin types are:

  • Normal
  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Combination
  • Sensitive

Normal Skin Type Is this you?

It may be if your skin is smooth and radiant because it reflects light evenly. Your complexion is balanced (not too oily or too dry), and you rarely have breakouts. You don’t notice any changes in your skin throughout the day and can try many kinds of products without having a reaction. Normal skin is not too dry and not too oily. It has no or few imperfections, no severe sensitivity, barely visible pores, a radiant complexion.

Dry Skin Type Is this you?

It may be if you flush easily or have red patches or eczema (a dry, rashlike condition). Your skin often feels rough, tight, or dry in the afternoon or evening—even two hours after applying moisturizer. Skin products, sunblocks, and cosmetics sometimes sting or cause redness. Dry skin can produce almost invisible pores, dull or rough complexion, red patches, less elasticity, more visible lines, burning and, of course, dryness.

When exposed to drying factors, skin can crack, peel, or become itchy, irritated, or inflamed. If your skin is very dry, it can become rough and scaly, especially on the backs of your hands, arms, and legs. Dry skin may be caused or made worse by genetic factors, aging or hormonal changes, weather such as wind, sun, or cold and Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds. Additional problems can be indoor heating, taking long, hot baths and showers, ingredients in soaps, cosmetics, or cleansers and medications.

Here are some tips for taking better care of dry skin. Take shorter showers and baths, no more than once daily. Use mild, gentle soaps or cleansers. Avoid deodorant soaps. Don’t scrub while bathing or drying. Apply a rich moisturizer right after bathing. Ointments and creams may work better than lotions for dry skin but are often messier. Reapply as needed throughout the day. Use a humidifier and don’t let indoor temperatures get too hot. Wear gloves when using cleaning agents, solvents, or household detergents.

Oily Skin Type Is this you?

It may be if your face feels and looks moist and shiny (especially at midday when oil is at its peak). You tend to have clogged pores, and your skin is prone to both noninflammatory acne (blackheads and whiteheads) and inflammatory acne (pimples and cystic zits), which pop up all over. Oily skin can produce enlarged pores, dull or shiny and thick complexion, blackheads, pimples, or other blemishes. Oiliness can change depending upon the time of year or the weather. Oily skin can be caused or made worse by puberty or other hormonal imbalances, stress and exposure to heat or too much humidity. To take care of oily skin, wash your skin no more than twice a day and after you perspire heavily. Use a gentle cleanser and don’t scrub. Don’t pick, pop or squeeze pimples because this prolongs healing time. Use products labeled as “noncomedogenic.” They tend not to clog pores.

Combination Skin Type Is this you?

It may be if your forehead, nose, and chin are oily and tend to break out, while your temples, eye area, and cheeks are really dry. You also fall into the combination category if your skin changes according to the climate or season—sometimes it’s completely oily, other times it’s sandpaper dry. A combination skin type can be dry or normal in some areas and oily in others, such as the T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin). Many people have combination skin, which may benefit from slightly different types of skin care in different areas. Combination skin can produce overly dilated pores, blackheads and shiny skin.

Sensitive Skin Type Is this you?

It may be if you reach the beginning description under the Dry Skin Type. There are a lot of similarities here. If your skin is sensitive, try to find out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. You may have sensitive skin for a variety of reasons, but often it’s in response to particular skin care products. Sensitive skin can show up as redness, itching, burning or dryness.

Now What?

Hopefully, you can get some ideas about your skin type from the information in this post. If you feel confused about which category—combination, oily, normal, or dry/sensitive—you fall into, remember that you’re not alone. Most women misdiagnose themselves and, as a result, wind up using the wrong care regimen and products. Caring for the wrong skin type can aggravate skin, lead to acne, or even make your skin look older than it really is.

If you feel pretty certain about your skin care type, you can begin to follow the recommendations for that type. Or you can seek out some guidance from the experts as I am doing. I’ve scheduled a consultation with an esthetician at a local dermatology practice and am excited to learn and begin doing all I can for my skin. I am assuming it’s never too late to get started. So, I am, and I will share later. One last thing before we go – something for all of us no matter what skin type we were born with.

The Basics of Skin Care Apply to Everybody

These tips will help your skin stay healthier no matter its type.

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wash your skin thoroughly every day and never wear makeup to bed.
  • Moisturize your skin.

Feed Your Face Follow-Up: How About That Pumpkin

So, I shared information recently about Healthy Skin that I found online and promised I would try out the suggestions in the article. There were 5 foods suggested for use both to eat and to smooth on to make your face healthier. The article was called Feed Your Face. I tried one recommendation this week, and I am ready to report on my experience. Please excuse my bizarre photos!

I Picked the Pumpkin Let me be honest.

I chose the pumpkin recipe because it looked super easy, and I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Basically, you blend 2 cups of pumpkin, 4 tablespoons of low-fat french vanilla yogurt, 4 tablespoons of honey and add a bit of pumpkin pie spice. That is the recipe for the ‘face cream.’ For a healthy pudding, you add 1 and a half tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese and some vanilla flavoring. I created both versions in a couple of minutes and placed in separate containers in my fridge.

Wow Number One!

The pudding was amazingly delicious. There can’t be very many calories in this. It’s pretty, and it tastes absolutely wonderful. Unless you just absolutely hate pumpkin, you must try this. Yes, I know this is June. I chilled before scooping up bites, and it was refreshing and fabulous. The fact that we are far from October made no difference to me.

Wow Number Two!!

I also chilled the pumpkin recipe for the ‘face cream.’ Then, according to the directions on the website, I placed on my face and left there for 10 minutes. Information in the article indicated pumpkin contains elements that will refresh and hydrate the skin of the face. When I rinsed the pumpkin off, I was so pleasantly surprised. My skin felt so moist, and – unless I am imagining things — the little discolored spots that have appeared as I age looked better. I have pumpkin left over, and I will absolutely be doing this again.

Wow Number Three!!!

On top of Wow #1 and Wow #2, I had fun. It was truly a blast to stir up something in my kitchen that is healthy and tasty but also good for my face. You know I really feel this way because I actually posted these pictures of me with pumpkin on my face. Trust me when I tell you it was worth it.

More follow-up on additional Feed Your Face recommendations next week. Stay tuned!

To see the online article that includes the tips for use of pumpkin and other foods, click here.

Ladies (And Gentleman) – Let’s Talk Skin Protection!

This is a story about Jeffrey Wilson — a skin cancer survivor. Jeffrey is the first man we are highlighting as part of our Women and Wellness program. Why, you ask? Because in today’s world, women continue pushing the men in their lives to get necessary screenings. We want our men to be healthy, right ladies?

One day Jeffrey noticed what appeared to be just a pimple on his skin. That pimple ended up being an aggressive form of skin cancer called Merkel Cell Skin Cancer. Thanks to Dr. Christopher Balamucki and The Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center, Jeffrey is back doing the things he loves best. Watch now to see Jeffrey’s story and his message for protecting your skin.

What is Merkel Cell Skin Cancer?

Merkel Cell is an aggressive kind of skin cancer that has tripled in volume over the past several years. Want to know how you can protect your skin especially during these hot summer months? Radiation Oncologist Dr. Christopher Balamucki talks with Emily Burris in this TV-20 Medical Spotlight and gives advice on how to prevent skin cancer and what to look for if you’re concerned.

Just One Thing: Feed Your Face!

As part of our Spotlight Series on Healthy Skin all during the month of June, we want to share thoughts about what we can do to keep the largest organ of our body beautiful and healthy.

There’s a lot of great information online. We’re on the hunt for articles that are easy to read and filled with great ideas that are actually doable for women with a big wish for healthy skin but a small amount of time to work on it. We’re sharing our first one now and will share more this month.

We love an article we read called ‘Feed Your Face’ on the website, health.com. Click here and take a look at it. You’ll get a fun article about 5 foods to eat or smooth on that are great for your skin. Loved this article! There’s a recipe for something to eat and something to smooth on for each of the 5 types of skin-friendly foods. I’ll be headed to the grocery store this weekend to get what I need to try these suggestions. I promise to post next week to share what I did and what I thinking about Feeding My Face!

Remember that applying makeup is only one way to look pretty. What you eat and what you smooth on is probably more powerful. Just one thing to think about.

Healthy Skin: Is Yours?

Welcome to June! As we stare at the Summer of 2015, it’s a perfect time to focus on Healthy Skin. Yes, we will definitely be looking at skin cancer. It’s the the most common of all cancer types. More than 3.5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the USA, and more than 73,000 cases of melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) will be diagnosed in 2015. There’s another less common and aggressive kind of skin cancer known as Merkel Cell. Because it’s increasing in number and tends to sneak up on patient, we’ll be talking about that this month, too.

But there is more to healthy skin than just avoiding the sun. So, we’ll be sharing information about all kinds of things you can do to make sure your skin stays healthy as long as possible. Keep checking back here all month for tips and to-do’s…