- Question from Jules: I'm concerned about the effects on the skin of premature menopause. What skin care regimen would you recommend to prevent premature wrinkles and maintain its texture?
- Answers - Mary Gail Mercurio First of all, I'd like to make a few comments about the changes that occur in the skin at menopause. Declining estrogen decreases the moisturization of the skin and there seems to be an enhancement in the development of wrinkles. The easiest means of preventing this premature aging is avoiding the sun. The sun plays the largest role in the development of premature aging of the skin.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. One of the only advantages of working all the time is that you have less sun exposure and fewer wrinkles at the end of the day!
Mary Gail Mercurio
So don't ruin this by abusing your skin on weekends or holidays. We divide sun exposure into two different categories. Acute bursts of sun exposure, which is when people from a climate that doesn't see a lot of sun travel to the Caribbean on holiday for a week in the winter and get a sunburn. A skin-damaging sunburn. Another form of sun damage is a chronic exposure, such as that seen in an individual who works outdoors, such as farming or working as a lifeguard. There is evidence that these different forms of exposures predispose to different types of skin cancers. The acute bursts of sun appear to be associated with melanoma. In contrast, the chronic sun exposure is associated is basal cell and squamous cell. The bottom line is that any sun exposure is harmful to the skin increasing the risk of skin cancer as well as premature aging. Also, contrary to popular belief and what the industry may like you to think, tanning beds are harmful to the skin. They consist primarily of the UVA wavelength which contributes to both the development of skin cancer and to premature aging.
I tell my patients that the only safe tan is the one that comes from a bottle. And this is indeed safe. The active ingredient is dihycroxyacetone (DHA) This is not the same as the products like tanning enhancer, which may not have this ingredient. We have come a long way from the tanning product that I used as a teenager, which made me look like a carrot. These products are dramatically improved and are extremely natural. Unfortunately there is a need for such a product because we haven't achieved the ability for people to appreciate that not having a tan is attractive. As a dermatologist, this is my goal: for my patients to realize that having porcelain white skin is something to strive for and be proud of.
It is also important to realize that pigmented skin is not immune to the development of skin cancer and that it can also occur in women of color. It is a common misconception that only blue-eyed blondes or redheads are susceptible to skin cancer and need to protect their skin.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called No Hair, New Hair, Skin Care featured Mary Gail Mercurio, M.D., Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions on the physical side effects of breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in August 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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