What’s Aging You?


69 year-old truck driver whose left side of the face was exposed to the sun for 28 years.


By at least our 30’s, if not sooner, many of us start reaching for products that can help delay the aging effect.  While aging is a natural part of life, if you’re seeing signs of premature wrinkles, take a look at this fact.  85% of skin aging is caused by how you live (i.e. sun exposure, pollution, unhealthy lifestyle). 

Aging can be classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic aging reflects genetic background and the passage of time; in other words, elements that are beyond our control.  Extrinsic aging (considered to be preventable) is brought about by environmental or external factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and UV exposure.

Do you know which factor is responsible for expediting the aging process?

If you guessed the sun, you are correct (and have been reading my posts)!

By now you know the danger of excessive and unprotected UV exposure (skin cancer), but it also leads to photo-aging– a term used to describe the characteristic changes of  sun induced skin.


Extrinsic, left; Intrinsic , right.

The image above depicts photo-aged skin (left) and chronological aged skin (right).  See the dramatic difference?

Let’s take a look at how structurally these two pictures differ.

Protected From UV Damage and Extrinsic Elements

When age is caused by intrinsic forces, the skin has a thinned, smooth, clear, almost transparent apperance.  There is also fine wrinkling, inelastic, saggy skin, increased dryness, slight flakiness, loss of underlying fat resulting in hollow cheeks and eye socket and a slowing of collagen and elastin production

Exposed To UV Damage and Other Extrinsic Elements 

Aging caused by this will culminate in a thickened epidermis resulting in rough, leathery skin, telangiectasia (dilated blood vessels), yellow, sallow coloration and age spots.  There is an increased risk of skin cancer and a degradation of collagen and elastin.

As you can see, how you will age is contingent on several factors, most of which are preventable.  Sunscreen is and will continue to be one of the most powerful products in your skin care arsenal.  The best news, it’s also the most cost effective!






How Well Do You Know Your ABCs?


May is Skin Cancer Awareness month.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States…[and] over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.”   Since Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) is responsible for 90% of all skin cancers, taking preventative measures decreases your risk factor for this potentially deadly disease.  Here’s what skin cancer is, the different types, what to look out for and guidelines to prevent it.

About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer happens when DNA becomes irreversibly damaged, giving way to the growth of abnormal skin cells that are capable of invading and destroying surrounding normal skin cells and tissues. When the damaged cells multiply, a visible tumor is typically formed.

The difference between a benign tumor and a malignant tumor is that benign tumors are non cancerous, they won’t usually grow back when removed, and the cells do not invade the surrounding tissue, whereas malignant tumors are cancerous,  can grow back after they have been removed, and they invade tissues, organs and metastasize (invades surrounding tissue).

Types of Skin Cancer



Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer because of its ability to metastasize and spread to lymph nodes, blood, distant tissues and organ systems.  If it is detected and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it’s left untreated, it can often be fatal.


Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

This is the most common form of skin cancer in the U.S.  It can manifest itself like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars, or a brown or black lesion that could be mistaken for a mole.  Considered to be the most benign form of skin cancer as it grows the slowest and is the least likely to metastasize, removal can lead to scarring or disfiguring.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous Cell Carcinoma chiefly affects the superficial layers of the epidermis (top layer of the skin).  This type of skin cancer is characterized by a red, rough or flaky appearance and causes the skin to thicken.  It is most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs.  97% of SCC does not spread, however if metastasis occurs, scarring, disfigurement or death is probable.


Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Actinic keratosis can be a precursor to skin cancer that if left untreated, can develop into SCCs.  The appearance of AK is rough and scaly, and they can be tan, red, pink or flesh-colored.  Studies have shown that 60% of squamous cell carcinomas began as actinic keratosis.


ABCDEs of Melanoma

Asymmetry  If you draw a line through this mole, the two halves will not match.

Border The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven, irregular, scalloped or notched.

Color  Coloring varies from one area to another- different shades if brown, tan, or black- and it can become red, blue or some other color.

Diameter  Melanomas are usually larger than the size of the eraser on your pencil ( ¼ inch or 6mm) but they can be smaller when first detected.

Evolution  Any changes in size, shape, color, elevation or new symptoms such as bleeding itching or crusting.


Prevention Guidelines

  • Use broad spectrum sunscreen every day (SPF 15 or higher) and reapply every 2 hours or so, especially when outside
  • Seek shade, if possible, between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Do not burn
  • Avoid UV tanning and UV tanning booths
  • Wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses
  • Conduct yearly exams with a dermatologist and self-exam

I hope this post was helpful and remember: when in doubt, have it checked out!  It’s better to be safe than putting your life in jeopardy.


Disclaimer: The contents on this website, and any related links, are provided for general informational purposes and should NOT be considered medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here. Please consult a healthcare provider if you have any questions about a particular health condition.