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Healthy summer skin

Skin care: Don’t let your desire for a tan put you at risk of damaging your largest orga

Posted: May 20, 2010 10:45 p.m.
Updated: May 21, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The appearance of an enlarged freckle or sun spot can be reduced or even eliminated through a series of gentle peels. A mild bleaching agent is applied to the sun spot by an aesthetician, lightening the dark pigment without affecting the surrounding facial skin. Aesthetician Cari Karratti at Canyon Country's Balance Point Spa estimated that it t...

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Summer is almost here, and while it may be the season of sun and fun, it doesn’t have to take a toll on your skin. There are several easy steps you can take to prevent sun damage or, if you’ve already been burned by too many years of sun-worshipping, treatments to restore your skin.

At Canyon Country’s Balance Point Spa, aesthetician Cari Karratti estimated 60 percent of her clients over 40 have sun damage, whether it’s increased wrinkling, uneven skin tone, or sun spots. Karratti’s prevention methods start with sunscreen, preferably with a Skin Protection Factor of 30 or higher.

“The best sunscreen advice is to use it, every day. People don’t think of putting on sunscreen when they’re driving their kids to school, so I see a lot of damage on the left side of the face, which is the driver’s side,” Karratti said. “I tell my clients to always wear sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. Those harmful rays can still get you.”

What kind of sunscreen you select can be as important as using it on a regular basis. Jacki Curcio, a Canyon Country-based skin care specialist and owner of Jacki Curcio Healthy Skin & Body Care Products, has created a professional-grade line that includes sunscreen that protects from both ultraviolet A (long-wave) and ultraviolet B (short-wave) rays.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, UVA rays, the dominant tanning rays, account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation that reaches the earth and are 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays, which are the chief cause of reddening and sunburn.

Curcio’s Solar Defender sunscreen, available online or at Balance Point Spa, also contains additional antioxidants and vitamins and is waterproof, though that doesn’t mean you should just rub some on and forget about it.

“If you’re going to be outdoors for any length of time, whether you’re gardening or hanging out at the pool or the beach, sunscreen should be reapplied every one to two hours due to the heat and perspiration that will occur,” Curcio said. “If your skin is sensitive or you are under a doctor’s care, then always check with your health care provider and follow their instructions for sun exposure.”

Lips are another area that requires protection from the sun. Curcio advised looking for a lip balm product with an SPF 15 that contains Vitamin A or Vitamin E, and to avoid waxes or petroleum-based ingredients.

Exfoliation treatments can also help to smooth out any roughness from sun exposure, as Curcio illustrated.

“I like to exfoliate more frequently during the summer. It facilitates new skin cell growth and keeps the skin smooth, healthy and clean,” she said. “For lips, a gentle surface peel performed by a skin care professional helps to prevent the future fine lines that accumulate around the mouth and adds moisture, which is essential, since there are no oil glands in the lips.”

Hydration, whether internal or external, is another key component to great summer skin, as Karratti pointed out.

“The skin is the body’s largest organ. In hot weather, you lose more water through sweat, so remember to drink lots of water,” she said. “Drinking water helps keep oily skin clear and dry skin hydrated.”

Regular facials can assist the skin in staying moist on the outside.

For those with sun spots, creams with gentle bleaching agents can also be applied. Karratti uses a combination facial/peel to help clients reduce any unwanted dark patches, which usually require a series of treatments over four to six weeks and provide additional benefits.

“The cleaner you keep your face, the tighter your pores are, the fresher your skin looks. It gets a nice glow that you wouldn’t if you don’t take care of it,” she said. “The more you turn your old skin over and uncover the new skin underneath, the less wrinkles you’ll have.”

When sun damage has reached a more critical level, dermatologists are often sought to provide advanced cosmetic or medical treatments, such as photo-facials using laser energy.

Laura Stevenson, physician assistant at Valencia’s McCray Dermatology, said 40 percent of the office’s clientele has concerns about sun damage.

“The 35-and-up age group starts to be more concerned with stuff they did when they were young that might have led to skin cancer,” Stevenson said. “The majority of the population 60 years old and above has some evidence of sun damage.”

Symptoms of sun damage, according to Stevenson, can include pigmented freckles, general redness to the skin tone, and actinic keratoses, or small, rough crusty growths that are precancerous and most often found on the face, ears, arms, and hands.

The latter have the potential to turn into skin cancer types known as basal or squamous cell carcinoma, which if left untreated, can metastasize.

“Basal carcinoma is almost always superficial. Squamous carcinoma is slightly more concerning,” Stevenson said. “Skin cancer is universal. No one is safe from it. If you have the type of skin that tans more than burns, you have more protection, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe.”

Stevenson said patients with sun damage are usually prescribed topical creams such as Efudex and Carac to apply at home for two to four weeks. Infused with 5-fluorouracil, an inflammatory agent, the creams cause a reaction with precancerous cells and aid with removal.

If skin cancer has been determined, a Mohs procedure, created by general surgeon Dr. Frederic E. Mohs, is performed to remove growths.

Studies show the Mohs procedure allows removal of the skin cancer with a narrow surgical margin and high cure rate of up to 99.8 percent for basal cell carcinoma and between 95 and 96 percent for squamous cell carcinoma.

“With the Mohs procedure, a portion of the skin believed to contain abnormal cells is cut away. Then a slide is processed and looked at under a microscope,” Stevenson said.

“On the face and neck, you don’t want to cut away too much tissue. We surgically correct the incisions. Usually, things on the face heal quickly, so stitches will be in for about a week.”

To avoid skin cancer, Stevenson strongly touted prevention to sun damage, including the use of sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing, as well as staying out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when harmful rays are at their strongest.

If you still desire a sun-kissed look this summer, there are healthy alternatives.

“Self-tanners are so much better now than they used to be. I like doing the airbrush tan at a salon, so there’s no streaking or orange palms. Either way, it’s much better for you than hanging out at the beach,” Stevenson said.

For more information on Balance Point Spa, located at 18285 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country, call (661) 252-0650 or visit www.balancepointspa.com. For Jacki Curcio, call (661) 904-9133 or visit www.jackicurcio.com. For McCray Dermatology, located at 25775 McBean Pkwy., Ste. 212, Valencia, call (661) 254-7200.

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