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Healthy You

Summer Safety Chat

August 14, 2019 1:00 PM with Dr. Asha Plamoottil

Join Dr. Asha Plamoottil, Department of Internal Medicine at NorthShore as she dishes out the details on summer safety. She will be answering your questions ranging from summer sun safety to avoiding those pesky insects that can ruin a fun day out. Submit your questions now and come back on August 14th to participate live.

Grandfather and child on beach

Ben (Moderator) - 12:50 PM:
We are going to get started in about 10 minutes. Feel free to submit your questions now, so we have them ready for the doctor.

Dr. Asha Plamoottil (Northshore) - 12:59 PM:
Hi everyone! My name is Dr. Plamoottil. I'm one of the primary care physicians in the Northshore Des Plaines location. Welcome to our chat! I am ready to take your questions.

  Michael (Skokie, Illinois) - 1:00 PM:
Hi, I get sunburn a lot, even when it's cloudy. How can I prevent this from happening? But also what are some good at home or OTC remedies?
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Thank you for the question, Michael. SPF and sun-protective clothing are the best defense to prevent getting a sunburn. Some good home remedies for sunburn care are moisturizers containing Aloe vera, applying ice packs to the sunburned skin, drinking lots of water and taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen to help with the pain and inflammation. Please ask your doctor before taking NSAIDs. You can also try calamine lotion to calm the skin. Avoid moisturizers containing petroleum as the petroleum can trap heat in your skin. If you have blistering of the skin, do not irritate or pop the blisters as you can develop an infection of your skin. There is also a laundry treatment called 'sun guard' that you can use to wash clothing to give additional sun protection. Hope this helps!

  Connie (Evanston) - 1:07 PM:
I have basal skin cancer small spots on my face that have to be removed. Can they use laser treatment instead of cutting it out?
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Thank you for the question, Connie. Typically basal cell on the face is treated surgically, sometimes with a 'Mohs procedure'. Photodynamic therapy and laser surgery are other options and may be less invasive for superficial basal cell treatment. However, it seems to be more in practice in European countries. To my knowledge, it is not available yet in the United States.

  Amanda (Chicago, Il) - 1:18 PM:
What's the difference between UV A and UV B rays? Thank you!
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Hi Amanda, Thank you for your question. UVB rays represents only 5% of the UV radiation that reaches earth, whereas UVA radiation represents approximately 95%. UVB is responsible for inflammation, hyperpigmentation, sunburn and cancer. UVA radiation can cause photoaging, pigment darkening and can also be a culprit in skin cancer. UVA rays are also further divided into UVA1 and UVA2. UVA1 is less potent than UVA2 and has less ability to cause redness. The purpose of broad-spectrum sunscreen is to protect against both UVA and UVB rays and the subsequent consequences, which is why it is highly recommended. Hope this helps!

  Vinny (Wilmette, IL) - 1:28 PM:
What are some telltale signs of Melanoma? Like what when should I see a Dr. vs what should just be watched by myself. What should I watch for if it's just something to be watched?
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Thank you for your question Vinny. There are 5 main signs to look out for that would warrant an office visit with a physician. They are easy to remember if you use the acronym "ABCDE" A- asymmetry: check to see if both halves of the lesion look the same B- border irregularity: check to see if the edges of the lesion are smooth or irregular (irregular is more concerning) C- color variation: look for the presence of multiple shades of red, blue, gray, black or white D- diameter > 6 mm: the larger the lesion, the more concerning E- evolution: if the lesion changes in size, shape or color The more criteria that are present, the more concerning the lesion is and may be biopsied by your physician for further workup. Also if you have increased risk of melanoma or multiple skin lesions, it is always good to do a full body skin exam with your primary care physician or dermatologist as some of these lesions can hide in unexpected places such as underneath the nails or the soles of the feet

  Sarah (Evanston, IL) - 1:37 PM:
What is squamous cell carcinoma? What are the signs of SCC?
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Thank you for your question Sarah. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer (second to basal cell). It arises from an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the outer layer of the skin. Most commonly SCC arises in sun-exposed areas, usually the head, neck, hands and forearms. They may look like scaly patches or plaques, can be raised lesions and can crust or bleed. They tend to grow slowly. If you are concerned about any such lesions, please discuss with your doctor.

  Evan (Niles, IL) - 1:49 PM:
At what age can I start putting sunscreen on my child?
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Thank you for your question Evan. Sunscreen is recommended after the age of 6 months. You should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with reapplication every two hours for your child with a minimum SPF of 30. Physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide may prevent any stinging of the eyes during application. Prior to 6 months of age, avoiding sun exposure or having your infant wear sun-protective clothing/accessories is recommended.

  Jean (Wilmette, IL) - 1:58 PM:
Is it possible to get skin cancer on places on your body that are not exposed to the sun?
Dr. Asha Plamoottil
Hi Jean, thank you for your question. Yes, it is possible to get skin cancer on non-sun exposed areas of the body. Typically basal cell and squamous cell cancer are found in sun-exposed areas of the skin but can be found on other areas as well. Melanoma can occur in any location whether exposed to the sun or not. Most commonly melanoma is found on the back in men and back and lower extremities in women.

Ben (Moderator) - 2:01 PM:
That's all the time we have today for questions. Thank you, Dr. Plamoottil, for your time and expertise!

Dr. Asha Plamoottil (Northshore) - 2:04 PM:
Thank you all for participating in our chat today! If you have any other questions, please make an appointment with your primary care physician. If you don't have a PCP currently, I'd be happy to see you in our Des Plaines clinic location!
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