LOOK FOR THIS ICON. IT'S A MENTAL NOTE. When you see it, that little tid bit of information is important to remember, so make a mental note of it.
Here we are. Trekking along on "The Holiday Fast Lane"...well, at least that's what it feels like. As we head into Thanksgiving, I like to sit back and reflect on what gives me an "Attitude of Gratitude":
1. I am thankful for...my new life in Colorado with my tenacious and wonderful husband Bill.
2. I am thankful for...the gift of a supportive family and amazing friends that make life worth living.
3. I am thankful for...the opportunity to build a business that serves the community and allows me to practice my passion here in Summit County.
4. I am thankful for...the extensive education I obtained over many years that I can apply to helping you have the best skin health possible.
NOW WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
THE GOLDEN TURKEY TRADITION
Who doesn't love a beautiful, golden brown, succulent and juicy turkey with all the trimmings? As the center piece of a family tradition for billions of people, this holiday bird makes for a memorable Thanksgiving surrounded by the loved ones that make your world go 'round. And if you pair this with the ritual showing of the movie "A Christmas Story" like we did while I was growing up, well, priceless amounts of giggles and fond memories from childhood are pretty much guaranteed. ;)
Another tradition for some people (but hopefully not for the faithful followers of my blog who know better!) is the pre-prom or pre-winter vacation tanning bed sessions. I know, I know, no one likes going to a school function, Cozumel or Fiji looking transparent, but even the celebrities have realized their past errors and are shunning the tanning bed trend due to the harmful (and permanently damaging!) side effects.
The tanning bed phenomenon and it's effects have been well documented. So I'm not here to be your nagging mother. Rather, I just want to remind you that sometimes society's idea of looking good and having a healthy future can be somewhat of a balancing act...and based on results, there is no exception to this concept in the world of dermatology.
It is not a secret that looking "bronzed" or golden brown and feeling like you are a native to the beach has been glamorized to be the "IN" look over the past several years.
But if you persist in using the sun's dangerous UV rays and sun lamps or tanning beds to get this look, you are literally aging and baking your skin with every minute you spend doing this.
THIS MAKES YOU A TURKEY. But wait, if you keep reading, I may be able to save you from any further PERMANENT damage to your skin!
THE 1980's CALLED...THEY WANT THE "OVERBAKED LOOK" BACK!!!!
Remember when it used to be cool to have really tanned skin? All your friends were doing it to be like the celebrities and cool kids at school and you followed to be part of the "IN" crowd?
Congrats if this DOESN'T describe your teenage years....but for many of us (me included!) this was one of my biggest regrets during the "young and dumb" phase of my life... BUT YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER THE SAME CONSEQUENCES!
After much research and data on the tanning concept, we now know the truth about the short and long-term harm this activity has on the cells of your body. :(
The good news though is that PEOPLE ARE GETTING SMARTER! The use of tanning beds and the amount of people using sun tanning lotion instead of sunscreen whenever outdoors ARE DECREASING based on recent studies, from 5.5% in 2010 to 3.5% in 2015.
Part of this may be due to the FDA's statement in 2014 which specified and acknowledged that sun lamps and tanning beds are KNOWN CARCINOGENS (cancer-causing).
Despite this, the tanning bed industry keeps advertising how safe the newer technology and beds are. (Don't kid yourself...the word SAFE does not belong anywhere near the words "tanning bed") Because, at the end of the day, obtaining a tan through tanning beds has been consistently shown to be addictive and dangerous. Especially if your young developing skin cells are exposed to these intense UV rays before the age of 18.
The Cancer.org website states this: "Indoor tanning is so dangerous, especially for young people, that federal, state, and local governments are taking steps to protect anyone under 18 years old. California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Washington have banned the use of tanning beds by minors, as have local jurisdictions in other states. As part of its Healthy People objective to improve the health of all Americans, the US Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal to reduce the proportion of high school students who use artificial sources of UV light for tanning to 14% by the year 2020."
Sources: * http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning/college-tanners
HEY LADIES AND GENTLEMEN - BEAUTY IS NOT JUST SKIN DEEP
Let's put everything we know about what tanning does to the skin on a shelf for just a moment and focus on the idea that "beauty" and overall health is not just skin deep.
The act of artificial tanning using beds and sun lamps has been associated with multiple psychological conditions such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Let's start with OCD first:
The use and overuse of tanning beds has actually been identified as an "addictive" activity that some people insist they need to do to feel better and may contribute to OCD behaviors due to the affects UV light has on the brain.
Now, while most everyone has heard of OCD, BDD and SAD may be more mysterious as they are not as well publicized. Here's the 411....
* Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance (which are usually minor or not seen by others). Many people with BDD get addicted to tanning to hide the perceived flaws on their skin or to obtain darker skin if they believe white or pale skin is unattractive.
* Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression believed to be caused by a hormonal imbalance that is commonly triggered during the shorter (and less sunny) days of winter. Patients with SAD think that the light from the tanning bed will improve their mood. However, the Skin Cancer Foundation demonstrates how this thinking is flawed: "Light therapy, an effective treatment for SAD, acts through the eyes and relies on visible light, whereas the dangerous UV radiation emitted by tanning beds is invisible light."
MENTAL NOTE! Libby Buscemi, MD, a New York City dermatologist, has seen many patients with the above disorders. She warns, "One major misconception is that these tanners think getting their skin checked before or after they sit in the sun (or tanning bed) means they will be OK, but damage shows up years and years later."
In my personal experience, by the time patients are coming to see me in their 20's, 30's and 40's about "looking so old with these wrinkles, brown spots and skin texture issues," it is too late. If you or someone you know has a mental disorder or a suspected psychological condition (whether or not it is related to tanning), support yourself or them in seeking help with a professional psychologist or psychiatrist.
UV DANGER IS MORE THAN JUST TANNING BEDS
So let's get real about a few key concepts here. The danger of having that golden brown turkey look isn't solely related to sun lamps or tanning beds.
Those faithful followers who have read my previous blogs know where this is going...I am about to pick on the sun. Yes, that sun. The large yellow sphere that sustains life, wakes us up in the morning, and helps us grow stuff. That giant ball of gas, heat and energy is a major culprit too.
The UV rays that are emitted from the sun (even on seemingly cloudy days) are what cause problems such as early aging with fine lines and wrinkles on exposed areas, brown spots, and a change in the texture and tightness of your skin. So any over-exposure or even regular intermittent exposure to those UV elements is what does your body harm, whether it is immediately with a sunburn or tan or in the long-term with premature aging and damage.
SEE MY OTHER BLOG POST ON KNOWING AND AVOIDING THE EFFECTS OF SKIN CANCER
And, as the picture above demonstrates, when these UV rays hit your skin its not just the surface that's affected.
THIS STUFF WILL AGE YOU
Skin Laxity is a natural part of aging. As we get older, our skin becomes more loose.
However, mitigating the amount of skin laxity is often about making better choices when we are younger.
Leathery Skin is where the effects of over exposure to UV rays, by tanning beds or the sun, causes the skin to lose the ability to self repair and a loss of collagen and elastin.
Brown Spots - or sun spots, liver spots, etc. come from the effects of UV exposure to your skin. Occurring more prominently on your face, hands, arms, neck and chest due to a lifetime of exposure to UV.
SEE MY BLOG POST ABOUT BROWNIES.
Wrinkles. Remember this guy? He is a truck driver who, over the years and years of driving his big rig across the good ol' USA without adequate protection or sunscreen, shows the significant wrinkling on the left side of his face affected by those dangerous invisible UV rays.
No tanning beds needed here. The moral of the story: Regardless of the UV source, whether it is tanning beds, sun lamps or the actual sun, UV damage will happen unless you are actively aware of it and protecting yourself. EVERY. DAY.
WATCH THAT VIDEO HERE
BUT, BUT, WHAT ABOUT GETTING VITAMIN D?
According to the Surgeon General and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)- getting healthy doses of Vitamin D should come from your diet, not the sun or tanning beds.
"The relationship between outdoor UV exposure, vitamin D, and human health is complex. The amount of outdoor sun exposure needed for meaningful vitamin D production depends on many factors, including time of day, time of year, latitude, altitude, weather conditions, a person’s skin type, amount of skin exposed to the sun, other individual circumstances, and reflective surfaces, such as snow, water, and sand.
MENTAL NOTE! Adequate vitamin D can be obtained safely through food and dietary supplements without the risks associated with overexposure to UV radiation. Although all UV exposures can affect skin cancer risk, entirely avoiding UV rays from the sun is neither realistic nor advisable for most Americans."
LIVING AND PLAYING AT ALTITUDE
For all of my Summit County friends and patients, you are well aware of the risk of UV exposure at high altitude. For all my new friends that are coming to Summit County to work and play, please, please, please take care of your skin.
* COVER UP with UV-protective eyewear, hats/helmets, and clothes.
* Use at least an SPF 50 sunscreen on any exposed area and reapply as often as instructed on the sunscreen bottle.
* Do not wear a bikini on the slopes (too much skin to cover with sunscreen!!!) :)
BUT KELLY, I DON'T LIKE LOOKING LIKE A GHOST!
What can be done? Of course, prevention is the first step and changing bad habits ASAP is also key. If you haven’t started using sun lamps or tanning beds, don’t even try it. Self-applied sunless tanning solutions and salons that professionally apply sunless tanning solution are available and are an acceptable alternative to sunbathing or artificial UV tanning sources.
This video on the American Academy of Dermatology website reviews proper application techniques for best results if you are into the DIY thing:
If you do currently use tanning beds, understand that even newer technology beds and salons are not safe. In fact the FDA has come out with new regulations based on more research and knowledge obtained over the past 10+ years. Read below.
"The FDA also regulates indoor UV tanning devices under separate authorities, both as medical devices and as radiation-emitting electronic products. On May 29, 2014, the FDA reclassified indoor tanning devices to Class II medical devices (moderate to high risk). Once the reclassification order is effective, manufacturers will have to include a warning that people younger than age 18 years should not use these devices...and will have to meet other requirements."
OPTIONS FOR GETTING THAT SUNKISSED LOOK
http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning/sunless "Fake It, Don’t Bake It"
I don't advocate one product over the other. But what I do advocate for is empowering and educating my patients to make wise skin health decisions. Feel better when your skin has a bronze glow? Fake it, Don't Bake It!
Today there are sooo many products on the market that are safer than using UV rays to get your skin that golden brown. From lotions, to creams, to sprays and beyond. The possibilities are endless. So find the one that works for you if having tanned skin is important to you.
BOTTOM LINE: YOUR FUTURE SELF IS ALREADY THANKING YOU
As your resident Summit County Derm-Nerd, I am extremely passionate about helping people achieve healthy and youthful appearing skin so that they can feel great about themselves...and if others happen to notice too, well then, double bonus!
Many things we do to our bodies, on purpose or just through the habitual rigors of living life, can have major impacts on our future selves and the longevity of our existence here on Earth.
I want to make sure that you use education to support your ability to make smarter decisions.
This year, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your future and what that looks like.
And don't forget to be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for those around you that truly care about you.
I'm thankful for you. Oh, and by the way, enjoy your Turkey this year. My guess is that you may look at that bird a whole lot differently now. And if anyone sitting at your table looks as golden brown as your dinner, send them this blog link immediately!
ONE LAST THING TO BE THANKFUL FOR....
FREE STUFF! DOWNLOAD MY WHITEPAPER ON THE TOP 5 SKIN MYTHS DEBUNKED HERE:
Until next time Nerds-In-Training...
Kelly Ballou, PA-C
Co-Founder Renew Dermatology
Frisco, Colorado (Summit County)
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