Ask Dr. Bailey: What is the Best Skin Care for a Skin Cancer Prone Person?
Dear Dr. Bailey,
I just had a basal cell removed from right under my nose. I have a large incision and have been in tears since the procedure. I am 50 yrs. old. The doctor said that she had to make the incision in order to avoid leaving a divot like mark. (I also had an in situ melanoma removed from my leg and I still have a few more basal cell procedures to go.) I have been reading all the information on your site. I would like to order right away. My question is what to get? I do have some tretinoin cream but haven’t started to use it yet. My skin is normal with a tendency to still break out despite my age. I have sebaceous bumps (not the blackhead type) but bumps that will not go away no matter what. My concerns are aging and wrinkles and preventing additional skin cancer. Can you help me figure out what I should use?
I am so sorry to hear about your skin cancers. It is traumatic to go through cancer surgeries. Sadly, skin cancers usually grow on parts of our skin that are visible to the world like the head and neck. These areas are also more difficult to treat. In women, melanomas are also often found on our legs. Take heart because protecting your skin from sun exposure in the future has been shown to reduce the number of new skin cancers you may get.
Your question about ongoing skin care techniques for people who are more prone to skin cancer is a really good one. I will be updating the information on my site regarding which products I usually recommend to my thousands of patients who are prone to skin cancer. The most important skin care product to use on skin that is prone to developing melanoma is zinc oxide broad spectrum sunscreens. Chose a product that is labeled 'broad spectrum' and offers SPF 30 or higher levels of protection. Look for zinc oxide as an active ingredient at a minimum concentration of 5%. (The higher the zinc concentration, the better!) I recommend people use this type of sunscreen on all exposed skin, 365 days a year, regardless of whether you plan to be outside or not.
My favorite facial products are Suntegrity 5 in 1 BB Cream SPF 30 for dry skin and Sheer Strength Pure Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen for all skin types. Both of these offer a very natural looking tint to help mask the pure zinc formulations.
Another really easy-to-use sunscreen is Sheer Strength Pure Mineral Spray SPF 50 sunscreen. I use this on my neck, ears and chest. The best way to apply spray sunscreens are to spray them into your hand, and then apply them to your skin so you are sure to use enough. Solbar Zinc and Citrix are both products I trust and have recommended to my cancer patients for years. I see their number of skin cancer occurrences drop to almost zero when they start sun-protecting.
Remember that sunscreen alone is not sufficient. You want to:
- Seek the shade (even with sunscreen on)
- Cover as much skin as possible with UPF 50 fabric
- Wear a 3-inch full brim hat that covers the scalp
- Wear a good pair of UV-blocking glasses outside during sunlight hours
Two other important habits that can help to protect skin from cancer development are using tretinoin at night and antioxidant products during the day.
My favorite antioxidant product of all is the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy Cream. I encourage all my cancer patients to use this product. I recommend applying it twice daily right after washing. The second antioxidant product that I feel is important is vitamin C. I recommend daily application in this order:
Green Tea Cream -> Vitamin C -> Sunscreen
Both of these antioxidant products are highly concentrated and the fast absorpiton rate can make it far easier to reach appropriate antioxidant levels than is possible when relying on dietary intake alone. These products are made with stable, pharmaceutical active antioxidants from an FDA approved pharmaceutical level laboratory. I believe they are simply the best quality antioxidant products available anywhere.
As someone who is at a higher risk of skin cancer myself, these are the products and the skin care routine I use.
Cynthia Bailey, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist