May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Dr. Chen shares expert advice on how you can prevent skin cancer and explains why sun safety is so important for you and your family.

Get screened for free!

Get screened for free!

Skin cancers are the most common cancers in men and women in the United States. What's more, as a type of skin cancer, melanomas are a leading cause of death from cancers.

What causes skin cancers and what can you do to minimize your risks?

Skin cancer is a lifestyle disease affecting nearly all age groups. In the course of a lifetime, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer; currently 13 million Americans are living with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer (either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma), and nearly 800,000 Americans have been diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

There is good news. Skin cancer is highly preventable. Skin cancer is also highly treatable when detected early.

“Most melanomas and nearly all other types of skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices,” says Robert Chen, MD, PhD, of Acacia Dermatology. “Regardless of skin tone everyone should practice sun safety and incorporate sun protection measures into their daily routine.”

"Nearly 800,000 Americans have been diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer."

Here are eight tips from Dr. Chen on how to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer:

  1. Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when sun's rays are strongest.

  2. Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in life.

  3. Avoid indoor tanning. UV radiation from tanning devices is now known to cause skin cancers. Those who make just four visits to a tanning salon per year can increase their risk for melanoma by 11%.

  4. Cover up. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven fabrics. Also don't forget to don a broad-brimmed hat and wear UV protective sunglasses.

  5. Use a broad-spectrum (UVA+UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply throughout the day.

  6. Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens may be used on babies over the age of six months, but they should also be protected by shade and clothing. Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation—just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.

  7. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams should not replace the important, annual skin exam performed by a dermatologist, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a dermatologist immediately.

  8. See your Board Certified Dermatologist every year for a professional, full skin exam. The American Academy of Dermatology can help you find a dermatologist in your area.

Skin care blog by Robert L. Chen, MD, PhD, for Acacia Dermatology (Copyright © 2017).


Dry Skin and Moisturization

It's easy to keep your skin well-hydrated with these tips.

It's easy to keep your skin well-hydrated with these tips.

One of the most common reasons people come to see us at Acacia Dermatology is because of dry or sensitive skin. Dry skin can be unsightly and folks with dry skin can be prone to irritation and itchiness, especially when the weather is dry or (paradoxically) when it's hot and humid.

If you have dry skin, the first thing to do is make sure you moisturize every day, especially after showering or bathing.

If you find moisturizing lotions to be inadequate, that is because lotions are fairly "thin" and do not do a good job at sealing your skin to prevent moisture loss. In this case you can do better by switching your lotion product to a cream product, one that is thicker, and do a much better job at sealing in the moisture within your skin.

There are many effective moisturizing cream products in the market, such as those from Eucerin, Aveeno, Vanicream, CeraVe, and others. I highly recommend Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. It's the product I use daily for me and my family. Go to for a $1 off in-store coupon if you are interested in trying out this great product.

Skin care blog by Robert L. Chen, MD, PhD, for Acacia Dermatology & Laser Center (Copyright © 2017).

Laser Hair Removal


Laser hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in the US. Despite its popularity, the treatment may be intimidating to some. We answer a few of the most frequently asked questions to demystify this popular procedure.

Q: How does laser hair removal work?

A: Each pulse of the laser focuses highly concentrated light beam at the root of the hair follicle. The follicles are destroyed without damaging the surrounding skin.

Q: Is laser hair removal safe? What areas can be treated?

A: Laser hair removal is safe for treating almost any area of the body including the face, arms, underarms, bikini line and legs. At Acacia Dermatology, Dr. Chen and his staff carefully treat their patients with the Cutera Coolglide laser, safe and effective for both men and women.

Q: How long does each treatment session take?

A: Each pulse of the laser takes less than a second. Therefore, small areas like the upper lip take only several minutes to treat while larger areas such as the back or legs will take proportionately longer.

Q: How many treatments do I need to get rid of unwanted hair?

A: 4 to 6 treatments are usually required. The treatments can be performed approximately every month until the hair stops growing. Annual maintenance treatments may be needed to ensure long-lasting results.

Q: How much does laser hair removal cost?

A: The cost of the procedure as well as the amount of sessions needed to remove unwanted hair depends on the size of the area on the body, the color and thickness of the hair, and the skin type and color of the patient. Sessions are priced individually and customized to your needs. Be sure to ask about our discounted treatment packages.

Q: Are the treatments painful? How will I feel afterwards?

A: You can expect to feel minimal pain during the procedure. There are usually little to no side effects afterwards. Since the treatment is so quick and no downtime is usually expected, you can go about your normal activities directly following the procedure.

The above blog entry is written by Robert L. Chen, MD, PhD, for Acacia Dermatology & Laser Center (Copyright © 2016).

Dr. Chen in the News

Dr. Robert Chen of Acacia Dermatology was interviewed in an article titled "Skin cancer still deadly problem: Education remains key to prevent one of nation’s overlooked killers," published in the May 10, 2014 edition of the Florence newspaper, the TimesDaily.

Many thanks to Tom Smith, Senior Staff Writer of Florence TimesDaily, for working hard to bring sun safety and skin cancer awareness to the forefront of the Shoals and Lawrence County Communities.

To read the story, please go to: