LEARN FROM A DERM with Dr. Anna Rufino
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and we got one of the top dermatologists in the Philippines to share some valuable insights with us. Let's learn from Dr. Anna Rufino about how we can all stay safe under the sun...
What are the different types of skin cancer?
There are many types of skin cancer but the most common are non-melanoma skin cancers. These are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). They both occur on the epidermal layer of the skin and are usually seen on sun exposed parts of the body. Both are quite easy to treat with early detection.
The next most common type of skin cancer is Melanoma. This is a little bit more aggressive and serious because it can spread to other parts of our bodies. It develops in the cells that produce pigment for our skin called melanocytes.
What does skin cancer look like?
BCC can look like an erosion or an ulcer and can be crusted and have some bleeding. It may have elevated rolled out borders as well. SCC is more wart-like, looks like a sore and can be scaly. Melanoma is a little bit more tricky. We use the ABCDE guide of skin cancer to detect this.
What do we do if we see signs of skin cancer?
If you see a suspicious looking mole or lesion on the skin have a board certified dermatologist check on it right away. We use a dermatoscope which is a powerful magnifying lens to determine the key features and see if you need a skin biopsy for the proper diagnosis. This is also used to document your skin and take comparisons in the future. Always remember, early detection is the key.
Do Filipinos or dark-skinned people still need sunscreen?
The answer is: YES, OF COURSE. Although Asians and dark-skinned individuals are less likely to burn they are also more exposed to the sun. Exposure to the sun without sun protection actually causes DNA damage to our skin which increases the risk for skin cancer.
It's important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your from both the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. So always look for the SPF and PA ratings of your sunscreen.
Sun Bum's SPF50 Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion has Broad Spectrum protection from both UVA & UVB Rays.
Do we really need to use sunscreen everyday?
Yes. Just because it is gloomy outside does not mean the sun isn't there. UV rays actually penetrate through the clouds and even glass windows. So even if you just plan to stay indoors, it is still good to apply your sunscreen because all these little unprotected exposures add up and cause damage to our skin.
How much sunscreen should we use and how often do we re-apply?
One shot glass of sunscreen should be enough for the whole body. For the face, it should be finger-length which is around 1/4 teaspoon or 2mg/cm2. It is important to re-apply your sunscreen every 2 hours especially if you are out in the sun but if your are swimming or doing other activities then it is good to re-apply more often.
What is the best way to treat a sunburn?
It is really to prevent them! Use protective clothing such as hats, umbrellas, and clothes that have UV protection. And of course a proper sunscreen that you re-apply properly.
But if they are already there - then cool showers, cool compress and seeing a dermatologist who can prescribe a mild steroid or even just paracetamol to reduce pain and inflammation. Using moisturizers can also help relieve the discomfort.
Try out Sun Bum's Cool Down Gel to prevent peeling and help soothe sunburned skin.
For Dr. Anna Rufino, prevention and early detection is the key. Make sure to see a board certified dermatologist as soon as you see any warning signs.
Team Parasol Y Mar