Read the newsletter for June 2012

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Stay up-to-date on all the happenings at Skin Specialists and by reading the monthly newsletter.

Read the latest issue to learn about seasonal sales, in-office specials, new brands, advances in dermatology and more. While you’re checking it out, you can also sign-up to receive the newsletter every month as well as view past newsletters.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger gives advice on how to treat jellyfish stings

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The discussion over how to treat jellyfish stings has been going on since people first started swimming in the oceans. The long list of jellyfish sting remedies have been disputed with outlandish claims about using baking soda, hot sand or even urine to alleviate pain. However, thanks to a recent article, we can finally rule out these myths.

Jellyfish stings create an intense, searing pain that causes itching, rash and welts. If jellyfish stings are left untreated, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, numbness, tingling, lymph node swelling and muscle spasms. Severe reactions can cause coma or even death.

According to a collection of recent studies reviewed in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the topical painkiller lidocaine and hot water are the best remedies for jellyfish stings in North America and Hawaii. Portuguese man-of-war stings can be treated with vinegar, however this may increase pain and may cause even more venom discharge from other types of jellyfish. There has been no evidence found that meat tenderizer or urine can be used to treat jellyfish stings.

“This study is interesting because it tells a how to treat jellyfish stings in a different way than most dermatologists normally recommend,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

If you are stung by a jellyfish, carefully remove the venom sacks (nematocysts) from the skin with the edge of a credit card. Scrape the card across the skin to remove the sack. Do not use bare hands to remove the sack or the tentacles. Once the jellyfish has been completely removed, carefully wash the sting area with saltwater before applying hot water or lidocaine. Seek medical attention immediately.

“I like the thought of using hot water, but remember that this is hot TAP water and not saltwater,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “Lidocaine is also a good idea, but it is important to remember that it isn’t readily available and unlikely to be stocked at the lifeguard stand! If you want to be prepared, take some along with you on your trip to the beach and you could be a hero to others.”

Always be prepared and educated when you are vacationing somewhere unfamiliar. You never know when you’ll need to know how to treat jellyfish stings.

Have you ever been stung by a jellyfish? How did you treat it?

Dr. Joel Schlessinger gives sun protection tips for high altitudes

Monday, June 18th, 2012
The Schlessinger Family at Mount Rushmore

Daniel, Nancy, Bernie, June and Dr. Joel Schlessinger on vacation at Mount Rushmore, June 2012

Dr. Joel Schlessinger just returned back to Omaha after a vacation to Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Dr. Joel Schlessinger, along with his wife, son and parents spent the last week hiking and exploring these scenic parts of America.

“While I was hiking in the Grand Canyon, which is about 8000 feet above sea level, I took more precautions than I would at sea level as the cloud cover isn’t as much. This leads to many more sun risks,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger said.

High altitudes can be quite deceptive–at higher altitudes, many of the sun’s harmful rays are not filtered as well by the atmosphere. Temperatures are cooler but there is an increased light intensity. This can lead to serious skin burns that can cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger and his family followed a strict sun protection regimen to keep their skin protected from the harmful rays at high altitudes. This included the best sunscreen for high altitudes and sports, sun protection hats and sun protection clothing.

As for sunscreen, Dr. Joel Schlessinger chose three of the best sunscreen choices for active lifestyles. He used EltaMD Clear SPF 46 and La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid alternately on his face. EltaMD Clear is lightweight and oil-free, perfect for any occasion where sweating may be an issue. Anthelios Fluid is also lightweight and absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving a matte finish.

He also used EltaMD Sport SPF 50 on his arms and neck. This is the best sunscreen for athletes and those who maintain an active lifestyle. Perfect for hiking, the Schlessingers used this sunscreen to protect their skin while exploring the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore, as it is sweat- and water-resistant.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger also wore a Tilley Hat and a Columbia UPF shirt for extra coverage. Tilley is a brand of sun protection hats made from highly researched fabrics that help to protect your skin from 98% of the sun’s damaging rays. As for sun protection clothing, look for any clothes that have a UPF rating. UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, measures the UV protection provided by fabric.

Don’t forget about your eyes – UV rays can also cause eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, photokeratitis and more. To protect his eyes, Dr. Joel Schlessinger wore a pair of polarized sunglasses to safeguard against damaging UV rays.

In addition to sunscreen, sun protection hats and sun protection clothing, it’s important to avoid the sun during peak hours. Between the hours of 10AM and 3PM, try to stay out of direct sunlight.

“My son and I went down to a place 3 miles into the canyon and started at 3PM, arriving back to the top at 6:30PM to avoid the heaviest sunlight — and to avoid a burn!” Dr. Joel Schlessinger said.

To recap, here is Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s recommended high altitude sun protection regimen:

  • The best sunscreen for athletes and athletic lifestyles
  • Accessories such as sun protection hats and sunglasses
  • Sun protection clothing with a high UPF rating
  • Avoid the peak hours of 10AM – 3PM when the sun is the strongest

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends this extensive sun protection regimen to help save your skin from damage at high altitudes.

“While this may seem a bit much to most folks, it is a good way to protect your skin from burning.”

What outdoor activities do you partake in that require extra sun protection?

“Base tans” don’t prevent sun burn – in fact, they encourage sun damage.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Base tans don't prevent sun burn -- they encourage sun damage.One of the most common reasons people go to tanning beds in the spring and early summer is to get a so-called “base tan.” This fact stems from the belief that a base tan will prevent your skin from sun burn when you go out on the beach. Unfortunately, this is a common, and dangerous, misconception.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger says that to protect your skin from a sun burn, you must use sunscreen.

“There is a common misperception that getting a tan is going to save someone from being burned when going on vacation,” he says. “This not only backfires, as many people will burn before vacation resulting in more sun damage, but a base tan doesn’t even protect as much as a sunscreen with an SPF of 4!”

Any change in the color of your skin is a sign of skin damage from ultraviolet radiation. With repeated exposure to UV rays, either from the sun or tanning beds, skin is at a much higher risk for skin cancer and premature aging.

“If you want to protect your skin from sun damage while on vacation, the best answer is with a good sunscreen, Heliocare tablets and avoidance of heavy noonday sun.”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends his favorite products to take with you on vacation to help protect your skin from the sun:

In addition to topical sunscreen, Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends the use of Heliocare capsules. These dietary supplements help your skin protect against UV rays and help slow down sun-related aging, thanks to the active ingredient Polypodium Leucotomos extract. Take one a day for daily protection. If you are exposed to direct sunlight, take a second pill at noon for additional protection.

Remember, the best way to protect your skin from sun burn is with sunscreen and avoidance of overexposure to UV rays. Never use tanning beds and always use sunscreen, even if you aren’t outside for long.

How do you protect your skin from the sun?

What are the skin cancer warning signs? Dr. Joel Schlessinger sheds light on the different types of skin cancer & how to watch for it.

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Photo courtesy of

One out of every five people in the United States will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States; each year, there are more cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

Although skin cancer is very common, it’s also one of the most preventable cancers. Learn how you can spot skin cancer warning signs and identify the different types of skin cancer with these helpful tips and tricks, including the melanoma ABCDE rule.

“Generally, a change in a mole or growth are the first signs that a cancer may be there,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger states. “Bleeding, irritation or dark coloration of a mole can be a bad sign. Look for signs of change over time as many moles can change, especially birthmarks.”

The types of skin cancer include actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. All of these types of skin cancer are serious diseases, although some are more dangerous than others.

Actinic keratosis usually has red or pink scaly patches on the sun exposed areas of the skin. This can be a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma, a more serious form of cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma is identified by raised, waxy pink bumps that may bleed or be tender to the touch. They rarely spread to other parts of the body but are very invasive to the location of the mole.

Squamous cell carcinoma leaves dull red, scaly and rough raised lesions on the skin. They occur frequently on the areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun.

Melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer – although only 4% of diagnosed skin cancer cases are melanoma, this deadly type accounts for 77% of skin cancer deaths.

Check for this dangerous cancer by following the melanoma ABCDE rule. Examine your moles for these early signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry
  • Borders with irregular edges
  • Color is disjointed or variegated
  • Diameter is larger than a pencil eraser
  • Evolving over time

Since melanoma is one of the most dangerous and aggressive types of skin cancer, be sure to use the melanoma ABCDE rule whenever you examine your moles.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger notes that skin cancers can be easy to check for yourself, but remember to always get a yearly check with your dermatologist.

“Dermatologists are uniquely qualified to evaluate and treat skin cancers and moles, so it is wise to make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation of any concerning growths.”