Why You Might Be Missing Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer. Catching it early is critical. The best way to find melanoma is to check your moles using the ABCDs. However, nodular melanomas can be trickier to find. A recent study from the Archives of Dermatology suggest that we might be missing these nodular melanomas which might be the reason why the death rate for melanoma has not improved in 20 years. How can we find nodular melanomas? Add “E” to your ABCDs.

  • Is the mole Asymmetric?
  • Does it have irregular Borders?
  • Does it have more than one Color?
  • Is the Diameter larger than 6 mm?
  • Is it Evolving (changing) or Elevated?
If it has any of the above and you have any concerns, then make an appointment to see a doctor. If a mole has 2 or more of the above, then it is by definition atypical and it must be checked by a physician.

In this video I’ll explain how examining your moles for the ABCDEs is the best way to catch melanomas as early as possible and to minimize the chances that it has spread.

Is Genital Herpes Contagious?

The answer might seem obvious, but I get this question often in clinic. In particular, patients want to know if genital herpes is contagious even if they or their partner is not having an outbreak.

The answer is yes. Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease and is highly contagious. Although the risk of infecting someone else is much higher if you’re having an outbreak, it is still possible to transmit the virus, called HSV, even if you have no symptoms. About 1 in every 6 adults has genital herpes.

Once you have herpes, there is way to cure it. It is common to have recurring outbreaks especially in the first year, but in most people these lessen over time.

The only way to ensure you won’t get herpes is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected. Wearing a condom can reduce the chances of infection, but it’s still possible to be transmitted. Taking anti-herpes medication such as acyclovir can reduce the amount of virus and minimize the risk of transmitting it.

April is STD awareness month. If you’re thinking you might need to get tested, then you need to get tested.


Photo: Nicolai Grut, Flickr

Caffeine Plus Exercise Protects Against Skin Cancer

Do you love your morning coffee? Do you love to exercise? Well, so do I. Here’s another reason why we should keep it up: caffeine and exercise might reduce the risk of skin cancer.

A laboratory study of mice found that caffeine and exercise boosted the elimination of ultraviolet light (UV) damaged cells. Disposal of these damaged cells before they can grow reduces the risk of a skin cancer developing.

The study compared the effects of caffeine, exercise, and the combination of both in three groups of hairless mice. Hairless or nude mice are particularly vulnerable to ultraviolet light radiation and are prone to skin cancer.

One group of mice drank caffeinated water, the equivalent of one to two cups of coffee a day. Another group ran on an exercise wheel, the equivalent of a 2.5 mile jog for us.  A third group drank caffeinated water and ran the wheel. All of the mice were exposed to UV radiation. The rate of elimination of damaged cells was highest in the third group that both drank caffeine and exercised.

A different study found that topical application of caffeine can also help prevent skin cancer. Caffeine applied 30 minutes before UVB exposure inhibited cell DNA damage by 80 percent. In other studies, caffeine has been shown to decrease the risk of breast and liver cancer.

Of course, caffeine and exercise are not a substitute for wearing sunscreen; however, they might justify splurging on a latte today. But please don’t place your Starbucks Venti coffee on the gym treadmill next to me in the morning — that drives me nuts.

Photo: Adria Richards (flickr)

The Pros and Cons of Proactiv for Acne

Proactiv® is the most popular acne treatment in the US. If Proactiv is so popular (and used by all those now-acne-free celebrities), then it must be a great product, right? Well, maybe. Here are the pros and cons of Proactiv. Continue reading “The Pros and Cons of Proactiv for Acne”

10 Ways to Prevent and Treat Crow’s Feet

Crow’s feet are the wrinkles that form on your temple and cheek around your eyes. The best advice I have about crow’s feet, or any wrinkles for that matter, is to put off getting them for as long as possible. All wrinkles can be improved with cosmetics, but the more winkles you have, the more difficult and expensive it is to improve them. Continue reading “10 Ways to Prevent and Treat Crow’s Feet”