Monthly Archives: June 2017

Risk Factors for Melanoma

What causes melanoma?

Anyone can get melanoma. Most people who get melanoma have light skin, but people who have brown and black skin also get melanoma. Your risk of getting melanoma increases if you seek the sun, tanning beds, or sunlamps: These all emit ultraviolet light (UV), and scientists have proven that UV light can cause skin cancer in people. Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 59%, and the risk increases with each use. Living close to the equator and failing to protect your skin also puts you at an increased risk. You are also at an increased risk if you have had 5 or more blistering sunburns as a child or teenager. Even if you haven’t had a sunburn in recent years, the sunburns that you got as a child still put you at risk for melanoma in your older years.

While exposure to UV light greatly increases your risk of developing melanoma, your other characteristics also play a role. These include:

  • Fair skin. Having less pigment (melanin) in your skin means you have less protection from damaging UV radiation. If you have blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes, and freckle or sunburn easily, you’re more likely to develop melanoma than is someone with a darker complexion. But melanoma can develop in people of all races and those with darker complexions, including Hispanics and blacks.
  • 50 or more moles
  • Large or atypical moles
  • Had melanoma or another type of skin cancer
  • Had another type of cancer, such as breast or thyroid cancer
  • A disease that weakens your immune system, or taking medicines to quiet your immune system, such as taking life-saving medicines to prevent organ rejection after transplant surgery

 

Scientists have also found that some people inherit genes that increase their risk of getting melanoma. Therefore if a close blood relative — such as a parent, child or sibling — has had melanoma, you have a greater chance of developing it too.

In order for early detection it is recommended to have your skin checked by a dermatologist once a year, or if you notice any mole changing.

Women and facial hair

All women have facial and body hair, but the hair is usually very fine and light in color. Excessive or unwanted hair that grows on a woman’s body and face is the result of a condition called hirsutism.

The main difference between typical hair on a woman’s body and face (often called “peach fuzz”) and hair caused by hirsutism is the texture and location. Hirsutism is when usually fine hair is coarse or if it grows in areas where hair is not usually present.

Women develop excessive body or facial hair, called hirsutism, may be due to higher-than-normal levels of androgens, including testosterone. All females produce androgens, but the levels typically remain low. Certain medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),  can cause a woman to produce too many androgens and, as can normal life events such as pregnancy. Hair growth or hirsutism in pregnancy is usually due to hormonal fluctuations — an increase in secretion of male hormones or androgens from the ovaries and placenta.

Waxing, shaving, and depilatories: If you have hirsutism, you may need to be more proactive about waxing, shaving, and using depilatories (topically applied creams lotions or foams that remove hair). These are all pretty affordable and take effect immediately, but they require continual treatment.

Laser hair removal: Laser hair removal involves using concentrated light rays to damage your hair follicles. Damaged follicles can’t produce hair, and the hair that’s present falls out. With sufficient treatments, laser hair removal can provide permanent or near-permanent results.

Electrolysis: Electrolysis is the removal of hair using an electric current. It treats each hair follicle individually, so the sessions can take longer.