Is There Such a Thing as Safe Sun Tanning?

According to Dr. Mejia and experts, the answer is no. Even if you tan easily, your skin can still be damaged from harmful UV radiation that can cause extensive damage as you age. If you’ve ever heard there’s a “safe” way to tan while minimizing your chance of developing skin cancer, you’ve been misinformed. Let’s take a look at what’s really going on when you get a suntan, and how damaging tanning can be.

What is a Sun Tan?

While beautiful bronze skin may look appealing, the reality is this: A suntan is skin damage, plain and simple. It leads to premature aging and wrinkling. When your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, it immediately attempts to protect itself from damage by increasing its production of melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its bronze hue. Beyond its skin-darkening nature, melanin works to absorb and dissipate harmful UV light, thereby protecting the delicate upper layers of your skin from burning.

When melanocytes, cells just below the surface of your skin, are exposed to UV radiation, your body instantly reacts in an attempt to protect itself. Immediately, melanocyte-stimulating hormone binds to these specialized skin cells to initiate melanin production. In essence, the moment you expose your skin to the sun, your body perceives an attack and throws up the only defense mechanism it has — a suntan.

Is a Suntan Dangerous?

We all perceive a suntan as being healthy and sexy. This was popularized early on by Sophia Loren. However, experts will agree that any level of suntan is a sign of skin damage. Skin damage is a cumulative, long-term exposure that can lead to serious consequences. While that beautiful bronze hue may be superficial, the damage it can cause extends far beyond the epidermis. Ultraviolet rays are capable of penetrating into the deeper layers of the skin, accelerating the aging process or, worse, causing dangerous cell mutations. This is one of the major factors that lead to basal and squamous cell carcinomas as well as melanomas.

As sun damage accumulates, UV light begins to damage DNA within your skin cells. A sunburn is an inflammatory response you experience from direct damage to your skin cells’ DNA.  Typically it is due to the effects of UVB which are more of the burning rays. If the damage becomes severe enough, you’ll experience peeling and subsequent tissue replacement. This type of damage is directly linked to increased incidence of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, especially in individuals with naturally lighter skin tones. In fact, Caucasian individuals who experience five or more severe sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 increase their chances of skin cancer by up to 80 percent! Even if you don’t burn, your skin is still subject to dangerous DNA mutations with continual UV exposure. One bad blistering sunburn in childhood can potentially double your chance of developing a melanoma.

Melanin, the molecule designed to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays, can cause indirect damage to skin cell DNA as a result of its reaction with oxygen molecules within your skin. Because oxygen is a highly reactive molecule with a relatively long lifespan, it is capable of damaging not only your pigment-producing melanocytes but surrounding cells, as well. Over time, as this damage accumulates, chances of developing the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, increase dramatically.

How Can You Protect Your Skin?

To shield your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays, experts recommend applying sun protection each time you plan to venture outdoors. Even if the day doesn’t appear to be particularly sunny, UV rays can still penetrate cloud cover, especially at high altitudes or in areas close to the equator. When the sun’s rays are most intense, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is highly recommended. We also recommend learning the shadow rule which is if your shadow is smaller than you, then the sun rays are most intense and sunblock is necessary.

Beyond wearing sun protection, you should avoid intentional exposure to UV radiation at all costs. Despite clever marketing tactics, tanning beds and booths are just as dangerous as the sun, if not more so. In fact, research estimates that individuals who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma by more than 75 percent! Most tanning beds use UVA and not the burning UVB rays. This allows people to get more exposure to UVA leading to melanomas.

Keep in mind that covering your skin does not always provide adequate protection. Just as UV rays are capable of penetrating cloud cover, they can also penetrate your clothing. Depending on the material, your clothing may block as little as five percent of harmful UV rays, so being diligent with your application of sun protection is essential.

Skin Care Specialists at Jupiter Dermatology

Despite its dangers, the ever-coveted sun tan remains wildly popular. While there’s no guarantee you’ll end up with skin cancer, there is simply no safe way to expose your skin to ultraviolet radiation.  You are at much higher risk if you have fair light-colored skin. If tan skin is an absolute must, you still need to be checked out by a doctor.  We recommend using a self-tanner. Regular checkups with a board-certified dermatologist can help you detect the early warning signs of skin cancer. To help protect your skin, contact our experienced team at Jupiter Dermatology to schedule your screening appointment today. Dr. Mejia specializes in Mohs skin cancer surgery and skin plastic surgery reconstruction. He prefers to meet you in different circumstances and therefore recommends regular use of sunblock.


Can laser tattoo removal cause cancer?

What to Know About Laser Tattoo Removal

Of those living in the U.S., nearly 30% of people have one or more tattoos. Statistics also show that about half of millennials have a tattoo. However, many people are not pleased with the decision they made. About 25% of those with tattoos wish they didn’t do it. But the good news is that a technique known as laser tattoo removal can remove tattoos with few side effects. But many people are wary of laser tattoo removal because they believe it can cause cancer. Here are some facts about the procedure and why there’s no need to worry.

Understand the Procedure

Laser tattoo removal works by breaking up pigment using very fast pulses of energy. Black pigments absorb all energy frequencies, which makes them the easiest to remove. Other colors require special laser frequencies depending on the pigment color. With the PiQo4 system, this can be customized to your unique pigments.

Before you undergo the procedure, our laser tattoo removal specialists will evaluate your tattoos and advise on the best action to take. We can then create the best treatment plan for you depending on the color(s), age, and size of your tattoo. The removal technique will also be affected by your skin color and how deep the tattoo pigments go.

What to Expect

Here are a few things to expect during laser tattoo removal:

  • The specialist will give you protective eye shields
  • The technician will check how your skin reacts to the laser. This will help them know the right frequencies for treatment.
  • The handpiece is used to administer intense light pulses through your skin. The light is only absorbed by the tattoo pigments.

Large tattoos require more pulses and treatment sessions to get rid of than smaller tattoos. Either way, you will have to go for several treatments for all your tattoos to be removed. Each session leaves your tattoos lighter. The process can be uncomfortable, but some patients do not require anesthesia. You may have to use topical anesthesia before you go for your first laser tattoo removal session. Immediately after the treatment session, take an ice pack and use it to sooth the treated area, spread an antibiotic cream on it, and bandage for protection. Whenever you want to go outside, make sure to cover it with SPF.

Negative Effects

Laser tattoo removal is safer than other methods such as salabrasion, dermabrasion, or excision because it selectively treats the tattoo pigments. The side effects associated with laser treatment are few, but it’s important to consider the factors below before you make a decision:

  • The area where the tattoo is being removed could get infected if not taken care of properly.
  • Your tattoo may not be completely removed or may need more treatments depending on the pigment. Often, some colors, such as black and blue, respond well to this treatment. Others, such as green, are more difficult to get rid of.
  • The result may leave you with slight hypopigmentation. This means that the treated skin becomes paler than the surrounding skin. You may also end up with hyperpigmentation that leaves the treated section darker than the surrounding skin.
  • Cosmetic tattoos such as eyeliner, eyebrows, and lip liner may darken after treatment, but additional sessions could help them fade.

Schedule a Consultation

Laser tattoo removal is one of the best and safest ways to break up pigment when performed by an experienced technician. To discuss your options and safety concerns with laser tattoo removal during a consultation, contact our Jupiter office by calling or filling out our online form.

Types of Skin Cancer and Treatment Options

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, and most often occurs on skin that is exposed to the sun. However, it may also show up on areas that are not usually exposed to sunlight, making it a tricky condition to combat.

There are three main types of skin cancer, including:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma usually appears in areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, and may appear as a pearly or waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, or a bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and then returns.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma usually occurs in sun-exposed areas of the skin, and those with darker skin tones are more likely to develop this form of skin cancer on areas that are not exposed to the sun. It may appear as a red, firm nodule or a flat lesion what a scaly, crusty surface.


Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and can develop anywhere on the body. It can affect people of any skin tone and may manifest as a large, brownish spot with darker speckles, a mole that changes in size, shape, or color, a small lesion with an irregular border and colors, a painful lesion that itches or burns, or a dark lesion on your palms, soles, fingertips, or toes.

If you notice any changes in your skin that are worrisome to you, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist to ensure that skin cancer is not the issue.

Skin Cancer Treatment Options

At Jupiter Dermatology, we offer a number of skin cancer treatment options. Moles that show signs of skin cancer can be removed and tested. Mohs skin cancer surgery may also be used to help remove any cancerous tissue.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

The best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is by limiting or avoiding exposure to UV radiation. Also, be sure to check your skin regularly for suspicious changes to help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. The earlier skin cancer is caught, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

If you are concerned about a growth on your body and wish to have it looked at, contact our Jupiter, FL office today to schedule an appointment!

Know How to Detect the Different Types of Skin Cancer

We all enjoy time spent out in the sun, but unfortunately, any exposure to UV rays without the use of sunscreen could be doing irreversible damage to our skin! According to the American Cancer Society, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Although these numbers might sound scary, skin cancer has a very high survival rate. The key to successful treatment is to spot the cancer right away. Keep reading to learn about the most common types of skin cancer and how they can be detected and treated.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, involving the basal cells within the outer layers of skin. This type of cancer often appears as an open sore or red patch that can be mistaken for a nonthreatening condition like psoriasis. Other times, the cancer presents itself as a shiny bump or slow growing tumor. These often occur on sun exposed areas like the head and neck. Many of my patients tell me it started Luke a pimple. The size of the tumor can help indicate the stage that the cancer is in. Basal cell carcinoma can sometimes be treated with the Mohs surgery technique. This is a highly effective microsurgery technique used to remove the cancer layer by layer until only healthy tissue remains. It gives you the highest cure rate with the least chance if recurrence. The exact course of treatment, however, will depend on the size of the cancer and how far it has progressed.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and is more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a scaly red patch, wart, open sore, growth, or depression in the skin that doesn’t heal. The surrounding skin usually shows signs of sun damage as well with sun spots, laxity, and wrinkles. Squamous cell carcinomas can occur on any area of the body but most often appear on the lip, face, scalp, neck, and arms. Mohs surgery can be used to treat this type of cancer as well, removing the cancerous tissue while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.


Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but survival rates are still high when detected early. The cancer usually appears as a growth or mole, although it’s important to remember that most moles are harmless! This can appear on any sun exposed area of your body such as your arms, neck, or hands. You can detect the first sign of this type of cancer by understanding the ABCDE’s of melanoma. This includes Asymmetry, an irregular Border, having multiple Colors, a Diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and a mole that Evolves or changes in any way. Often times melanoma develops in an existing mole, so, if you notice any mole begin to change, you should have it checked out by your dermatologist. Most times, however, melanoma will appear as a new mole, so if you notice a new mole forming, watch carefully for signs of skin cancer. Melanoma treatment will depend on the stage it’s in but will likely involve surgical removal of the cancerous mole.

types of skin cancer jupiter fl

Know your risk level

Certain individuals are at a higher risk of skin cancer than others and should take extra caution when it comes to staying out of the sun and examining their skin for signs of cancer. Factors that can put you at a higher risk of skin cancer include having fair skin, a personal or family history of skin cancer, prolonged UV exposure (especially from tanning beds), or a weakened immune system. If you know you’re at a higher risk of skin cancer, self-examination is very important. It is also important to have a full-body exam from a dermatologist for a professional opinion and to examine hard-to-reach areas like your back and private areas. Melanoma can arise where the sun does not shine.

How you can prevent future damage

Although past sun exposure can do irreversible damage to your skin, you can still protect yourself from future damage! Always apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to any sun exposed areas before going outside. If you can, it’s recommended to avoid over exposure to the sun during the hours it’s the strongest, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You should avoid the use of tanning beds completely, as these UV rays are much stronger than natural sunlight, greatly increasing your risk of skin cancer.

If you notice any of these signs of skin cancer, contact Jupiter Dermatology right away! Our board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Mejia, can examine your skin to detect signs of cancer and develop the appropriate treatment plan.

Melanoma Awareness Month


May is Melanoma Awareness Month. May 4th is Melanoma Monday. It is a month where we will be sharing stories and awareness of this deadly disease. The Melanoma Research Foundation has a campaign called #GetNaked . You simply get naked in front of the mirror and do a self skin exam. They are encouraging everyone to share. By sharing the link of this post, the image will show up in your share.

Dr. Mejia will be on WPBF25 News on Monday to speak about melanoma. So if you are local in the Palm Beach area, stay tuned in the news.

If you are on Twitter, on Monday, May 4th the non-profit, Aim At Melanoma will be having a Twitter chat at 8PM EST. All you have to do is follow the hashtag #melanomamonday all day and especially at 8PM where they will be discussing the Melanoma Tissue Bank.

We also compiled some stories and resources from the hashtag #melanomaawarenessmonth from Twitter and Instagram below.

Most importantly, Dr. Mejia’s number one priority is to wear your sunblock. He compiled the ABCDE’s of Melanoma so you know what to watch for.

melanoma-facts-abcd Continue reading “Melanoma Awareness Month”

Melanoma Symptoms : 10 Yr Old Discovers a Spot in Her Moms Hair

A friend of Dr Mejia’s in Dallas shares her melanoma story. Her daughter was brushing her hair one day and found a spot in her scalp thinking it was hair dye. Her mother had her take a picture of it and went to the dermatologist the next day who immediately did a biopsy and was then diagnosed with melanoma.

Dr Mejia urges everyone to know the ABCD’s of melanoma symptoms so you are educated ahead of time in case of an unforseeable situation just like what happened to Lynn. Her hairdresser had seen that spot for five years and didn’t think it was anything abnormal.

In this video, Dr. Mejia explains the symptoms of melanoma and the brochure above gives you a good visual so you know how to spot.


Melanoma Of The Nail Bed – What’s Hiding Under Your Nails?


Melanoma nail beds are a rare type of skin cancer that can often go misdiagnosed in those who keep nails covered in polish. As our practice takes a hair to toe approach, we recommend removing polish prior to your annual skin check for the best evaluation and prevention of skin cancer.

They are typically diagnosed later in life (ages 40-70) and can be easily mistaken for nail bed trauma, bruising under the nail, or nail fungus. Such nail abnormalities should be watched closely to ensure a melanoma does not get missed.

Melanoma nail beds tend to be thicker when diagnosed when compared with other melanomas, making treatment more in depth. The Skin Cancer Foundation has developed the CUBE acronym to help know what to look for and when to go see a specialist:

C-Colored lesions
U-Uncertain Diagnosis
B-Bleeding under the nail/ Beefy red tissue
D-Delay in healing beyond 2 months

Let us know if you have any questions about the health of your nails.

Skin Cancer Self Treatment Risks


Skin cancer self treatment options are becoming more accessible online and the unsuspecting patient’s purchasing them have no idea how hazardous it really can be instead of beneficial.

Dr. Adam Friedman, Director of Dermatological Research at Einstein College of Medicine in NY, explains it best:

  • Now there is evidence that some of the treatment products found online may be helpful if used purposefully, safely and in the right way.
  • But when people find these treatments over the Internet and don’t know what they’re getting or what they’re doing, it can be very dangerous.
  • Medicine is not about throwing a dart at a dartboard and hoping for the best,” he said. “Because while you may end up treating a cancer, you may also end up burning a hole through your face.

Continue reading “Skin Cancer Self Treatment Risks”

Solar Keratosis Explained By Dr. Mejia

Solar Keratosis also known as Actinic Keratosis are precancerous cells that have a possibility of developing into Squamous Carcinoma.

It is important to  keep an eye on any symptoms and take care of these is because over time you are taking prevention from developing another skin caner. At Jupiter Dermatology we have a plethora of preventative therapy with various different treatments in an effort to reduce the amount of precancerous skin cells that exist on the face, arms, chest, back and other multiple areas they can be found.

The treatments for Solar Keratosis or Actinic Keratosis to help reduce the precancerous cells are some of the following:

  • Blue Light
  • Photo Dynamic Therapy (Explained in detail in this blog post)
  • Creams available at Jupiter Dermatology
  • Chemical Peels

Dr. Mejia tells his patients to think of their skin as a car engine. Many people do treatment once and think it will be enough. However if you want to keep your car in good condition, you must check the oil often times throughout the year. The same applies to your skin, depending on your history and the procedures you have done.  You and your dermatologist have to decide how many times it is necessary to check your skin. It may be only once a year or it may have to be four times a year, but it is in your best interest to have your skin as a top priority.

To prevent the progression of Solar Keratosis into Squamous cell carcinoma, at Jupiter Dermatology we advocate preventative and aggressive treatments in order to reduce that risk so hopefully you do not need to have surgery in the future.