Out Out Damned Spot!!.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 5-10 years you are well aware of the dangers of the sun and how too much of it, especially if you "burn", can predispose you to wrinkles sunspots and a virulent skin cancer called malignant melanoma. More than 600,000 U. S. citizens will get some variety of skin cancer in 1999.
Light skin is the primary risk factor for sunburn--the precursor for this most common of all cancers. However, there is another significant factor that can increase your risk for sun burn. It's MEDICATION. Surprise! Many prescription and some over the counter drugs (and herbs) can cause a photosensitivity reaction which makes your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. The list of prescription drugs that cause photosensitivity includes antibiotics, hormonal products, anti-migraine shots, diuretics, antidepressants, and heart, anti-cholesterol and blood pressure lowering medications. Over the counter drugs and herbs include the non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, Motrin, etc.), aspirin, benzocaine creams, and St. John's Wort, In fact, the list is SO long you should:
1. check with your pharmacist each time you purchase a prescription or over the counter medication and
2, be extra vigilant about protecting yourself from sunburn if you are taking ANY drug--Dr. or self-prescribed.
Those of us who grew up believing that a darkly tanned skin made us look healthier are paying for it now with moles, sunspots, and skin lesions that may or may not be cancer. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have any skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
Watch also for a mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
- changes color
- increases in size or thickness
- changes in texture
- is irregular in outline
- is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser
- appears after age 21
A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed
An open sore that does not heal within 3 weeks
If you see any of the above, make an appointment with your physician or dermatologist immediately. Better to be safe than sorry. Most importantly, ALWAYS wear sunscreen. If involved in a sport or water activity be sure the sunscreen is waterproof.
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