Dr. Sarah Cely, Pictured Above, of Savannah River Dermatology
Happy Tuesday, Everyone! Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing local Augusta dermatologist, Sarah Cely, with Savannah River Dermatology. I had been wanting to do a local interview and thought, why not start with an expert who can speak to summer skin care?
Here is a little more on Sarah’s background — she is a native of Augusta and received her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University. She attended medical school at the University of Louisville. She completed an internship in Internal Medicine and residency in Dermatology at the Medical College of Georgia in 2011. Lastly, she is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, and Augusta Dermatology Society.
I learned so much from our one-on-one interview and will be making some major changes in my daily routine!
With summer upon us, what is the best way to prevent sun damage while enjoying the great outdoors?
Sarah: Regular use of a an SPF 30 Sunscreen or Higher, with re-application every 80 minutes. The higher-level SPF’s are fine, too, but they still have to be re-applied every 80 minutes. In addition to sunscreen, avoid the times of the highest UV-rays, from 10am-2 pm and seek shade when possible. Also, UV-Protective Clothing is another from of sun protection, as regular clothing does not protect you 100%. Lastly, I also recommend using a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
So, I forgot to reapply my sunscreen at the beach, and end up with a burn. What should I do next?
Sarah: The best way to alleviate pain is with Aloe-Vera and a cool-compress; you should also avoid direct sunlight for the next several days. The natural course of progression is redness and swelling for a few days, followed by peeling. When you do start to peel, the most important thing is to moisturize regularly to promote new skin-cell turnover and heal the skin. Very rarely do you need to seek medical attention, but if you start to have fever, chills, or feel ill –see a doctor.
How often should I get checked for skin cancer, and at what age should young women start coming in for screening?
Sarah: There is no age of recommendation at which to begin skin exams. If you have a family history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer, have multiple blistering sunburns, or if you are using or have used tanning beds, you should have your skin checked routinely. A good rule-of-thumb is that women should start getting screened around the time they start having routine gynecological exams & and should plan on coming in once a year.
What can I look out for at home and what are the red-flags of skin cancer/ cancerous moles?
Sarah: There is an acronym we use to describe abnormal moles: “ABCDE,” which stands for Asymmetry, Borders (that are jagged), Color (that is uneven throughout the mole or a darker mole), Diameter (bigger than a pencil eraser tip), and Evolving. A more simple way to tell if a mole is abnormal is when it does not look like all of your other moles. Fair skinned people with light eyes are more at risk for skin cancer than other skin types. Interestingly, women have the highest incidence of melanoma on their legs.
Tanning Beds, Mystic Tan, or Sun-Tanning?
Sarah: I prefer Mystic Tan and Self-Tanners –in general they are a safe alternative to tanning from UV rays. My concern regarding spray tans is the risk of inhalation and the effects it may have on your lungs. I recommend Jergens Natural Glow, which you can find at drugstores or St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Lotion from Sephora or Ulta Beauty.
What is the maximum amount of time we should spend in the sun each day and what are some tricks when you are on a beach trip and want to be with everyone by the pool or beach all day?
Sarah: There is no maximum amount of time that is “safe.” As long as you are protecting yourself and reapplying your sunscreen every 80 minutes and seeking shade when you can, you are making smart decisions. I also recommend using UV-Protective clothing if you can.
Let’s break down the options for treating sun damage (dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles). What are the best options for women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s +?
Sarah: Start using sunscreen at an early age –even in your teens and early 20’s. Sunscreen is the best way to prevent fine-lines and wrinkles. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so to say. When you start to get into your 30’s, you can begin using Retinol or Retin-A active-ingredient products. There are both over-the-counter options, such as Neutrogena, and physician-prescribed products.
The limiting factors with these products are irritation, dryness and peeling; everyone has a different tolerance level. So, it may be better to start with a lower-level Retinol/Retin-A product, see how you tolerate it, and then gradually increase the dose. Also, many women get frustrated when they don’t see immediate results. However, if you used Retinol on one side of your face and not the other, 3 years later, you could tell a difference with less fine lines and wrinkles on the side you have been treating with Retinol or Retin-A. It is a treatment to prevent progression, rather than reverse fine lines and wrinkles. My recommendation for anti-aging treatment is using a Daily SPF of 30 or higher with frequent reapplication and a Retinol at night; then, you can add on additional products that target your area of concern.
Usually, women begin exploring chemical peels and Botox in their mid-to-late 30’s. If you do decide to have a chemical peel, make sure your dermatologist or aesthetician knows which products you are using at home, as some of these could have negative interactions. Botox temporarily paralyzes the muscles of facial expression that cause wrinkles in motion. It is administered with a small needle at multiple injection sites to lines between the eyebrows, along the forehead, and around the eyes. It lasts 3-4 months and eventually wears off, requiring repeat treatment.
For all of the new moms out there, how long should they wait to take the baby to the pool or outdoors for an extended period of time and what are the best products for protecting baby?
Sarah: Newborn and infant skin is more sensitive to UV Rays than ours. The best thing is to wait until they are at least 6 months for direct sun exposure, if possible. But, if you are going to take them out before then, in addition to seeking shade, use hats and UPF clothing, and minimize their time in direct sun. I recommend using a mineral-based sunscreen, such as Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 50 or Neutrogena Pure & Free SPF 60 Baby Lotion, with reapplication every 80 minutes.
Lastly, many women are plagued with melasma, which is the dark pigmentation that occurs on the upper lip, cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, and/or chin. Why does this happen and what are the treatment options?
Melasma is a disorder of pigmentation. It likely occurs when the color-making cell in the skin, the melanocyte, produces too much color People with darker skin types are more prone to melasma due to their active melanocytes.
Triggers of melasma are UV exposure and a change of hormones, such as pregnancy, birth control pills, and/or hormone replacement therapy. Melasma is also known as “the mask of pregnancy.”
Treatments include hydroquinone bleaching creams, tretinoin, steroid creams, kojic and azeleic acid.
If you would like to set up an appointment with Dr. Cely, please call her office at (706) 691.7079 or visit her website.
Thanks so much for checking in and I hope you enjoyed this interview. I will be doing more local interviews and if you know someone who would be a good fit in the Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle, or Travel categories, please leave me a comment!
Anne Stafford Benton