Skin Cancer & Tattoos
This past weekend, while taking in the sights of all the beautiful freaks at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Brian & I noticed something a little less fabulous: tattooed skin on parade goers becoming sun burnt as we all partied under the strong rays for hours. And many tattoos looked like they'd never seen a bottle of sunscreen before.
We hear it from our tattooists all the time: "protect your investment," "keep it out of the sun to keep it looking new longer," "don't make my work look bad--wear sunscreen!"
But slathering on creams and sprays every day takes time. It can be greasy. The protective film may mask the brilliant colors and bold blacks underneath. And the reapplying it...yeah, it's a pain. What's the alternative, however?
Beyond faded tattoos, the greater concern is skin cancer. And heavily tattooed people need to be extra vigilant because melanoma can be hard to detect among our artwork.
To be clear, tattoos do NOT cause skin cancer. Once in a while you'll see some bogus puff piece in the news citing statistics about more and more tattooed young people with melanoma. But that's just because more young people in general are getting skin cancer.
Nevertheless, tattooed people are at a greater risk because the signs of melanoma may be masked.
My friend Kathleen, a beautiful tattooed redhead, was diagnosed earlier this year with melanoma. Read her post on her experience, which has some great links on what to look for and how to prevent it.
A few weeks ago, there was a CBS News story on tattoos masking melanoma, in which the tattoos on those featured in the piece partially covered moles, making the melanoma difficult to detect. The CBS story has a bit of a negative slant to it, but it is a good reminder to protect the investment in our overall well being, and not just our tattoos.
So, slather on the sunscreen -- and often. Get regular skin checks by your dermatologist. And stay beautiful and healthy.