26 Jun Sun coverage not skin coverage
Each office day, I have many discussions about sunscreens, hats, and additional protective clothing. There are many ways to cover your skin from the sun. However, tattoos are not one of them. In fact, they can make it harder to protect and treat skin.
As tattoos have become more prevalent, the presence of ink is providing diagnostic challenges. Certainly the questions of how to most efficiently, completely, and safely remove tattoo pigments have been answered with the PicoSure laser.
But, how in this world of ever increasing rates of skin cancer do we follow people’s skin when damage is camouflaged with the extraneously introduced pigments of tattoos?
The difficulty of both self-examination and physician-examination of skin increases exponentially as the intricacy of tattoo artistry increases and larger areas of skin are adorned. Many tattoos have layered pigments which exacerbates the challenge. Even with magnification and use of polarized light, evaluation of moles and other pigmented lesions has become very much more difficult in the context of tattooed skin.
Patient awareness is paramount. Routine self-examination is extremely important. Regular, careful, and methodical examination by a dermatologist should become a matter of habit. Do not fall prey to the ideation that ink will offer protection from the sun. Sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoidance of midday sun remain rules to live by.