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Beware of the sun's rays

It's almost here: the time for sun-starved Oregonians to run into the great outdoors and put themselves in real danger
by: David Stroup, It only takes a little sun to do damage.

More than one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. One American dies of melanoma almost every hour. That's according to Marla Klein MD, a board-dertified dermatologist in Tigard.

Even on cloudy spring days, skateboarding, bicycling, outdoor sports, fix-it projects and gardening leave your skin at risk for exposure that can cause serious damage. Ultraviolet-A (UVA) is primarily responsible for premature aging, wrinkles and tanning, while ultraviolet-B (UVB) can cause burning. Both types can result in skin cancers. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, damage from the sun isn't appreciated until 20 years after the exposure; that is when the brown spots, wrinkles and basal cell carcinomas start appearing.

'We are seeing more and more environmentally stressed skin, sun-damaged skin, rosacea and dehydrated skin. The minute the Oregon sun comes out in the spring, people forget that the ozone layer really has changed and UV rays can be very damaging,' says Joanne Corder a licensed esthetician and skin specialist in Lake Oswego.

'Skin is several layers of the dermis,' says Corder, 'and when we are younger, the skin regenerates at a fairly rapid rate. As we become more mature, skin cell regeneration slows down, almost to a stop, depending on the individual.'

Corder stressed that protection also applies to hands, ears and, yes, bald spots on men.

Corder, who sees 80 percent women and 20 percent men, says that men often forget to protect the top of their ears and necks, and these area are very vulnerable, especially since men generally don't have hair over these areas.

Dr. Klein and Corder say that while protection is important, identification and treatment for cancer is critical.

'Anything that I'm not familiar with, I always refer to a dermatologist,' says Corder.

She follows up with clients to ensure that they have followed up with a doctor because she has seen too may discolorations that 'just don't look right and then turn into cancer. It's a sad way to lose a customer.'

Dr. Klein and Corder both stress that spring skin protection is essential and recommend use of sunscreen. Dr. Klein most frequently recommends Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer SPF 70 with Helioplex. Corder recommends DermaMD pharmaceutical products, which has a sunscreen with a SPF of 45.

But not all sun protection is equal, says Germaine Robottom, regional vice president of pharmacy operations at Rite Aid Corp. in Beaverton.

'Pharmacists can answer questions such as which sunscreen is best for you, how and when to apply it and also let you know if any medication you may be taking will increase skin sensitivity with sun exposure,' says Robottom.

'Medications such as tetracycline, sulfonamides such as Bactrim, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, to name a few, will increase sensitivity to the sun.'

The options for people who are seeing brown sunspots and wrinkles on their skin vary from Retin-A cream to procedures like IPL (intense pulsed light), chemical peels, microdermabrasion and a variety of non-ablative and ablative lasers.

Laser and IPL treatments at a physician's office help improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin but are very expensive - $1,000 to $2,000 for a face, and think $5,000 and higher to repair the chest, arms, hands, legs and back.

Licensed esthetician treatments like those done by Joanne Corder are far less expensive, under $750 annually for microdermabrasion, which also includes hand and foot treatments. Corder also offers body treatments. Laser photo facials (three treatments) run around $500.

Corder has several different formulations, depending on skin type, for exfoliates, toxin removal and cellulite firming. Consultation is complimentary and after 30 years and hundreds of faces, Corder is happy to answer questions, do analysis and make recommendations. Since she sees so many faces she is often the first person to identify a more serious condition. Then she recommends an annual full skin exam done by a dermatologist like Dr. Klein.

For free additional information about your skin type and care, contact Joanne Corder at 503-675-1202 or visit Dr. Klein's Web site to view educational videos.

But this spring, remember that prevention is really the most economical option.