alt=a woman applies treatment to her face while music plays behind her.

Aretha Franklin Song on my Mind

Last updated: December 2022

There’s nothing funny about skin cancer, but we can still have some fun when thinking about the lengths we go to keep up with our maintenance and prevention. Not laugh out loud funny, just a kind of “tickle your funny bone” kind of funny.

Humming an appropriate song

Here’s an example. One day when I had to put on all sorts of creams and ointments, I started to hum Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer for You,” like so:

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
And while I'm combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you

I wasn't putting on makeup

The funny part was, “before I put on my makeup.” Because I wasn’t putting on makeup, I was putting on:

1. Betamethasone dipropionate (Brand Name: Diprolene ointment).

I was putting this steroid on a red irritated oval area on each calf. The irritation was caused by an overreaction to my application of 5-fluorouracil (Efudex) and calcipotriene (Dovonex ). By doing something to head off a problem (skin cancer), I had created a different problem (skin irritation).

It is a fine line, because you WANT the Efudex treatment to create an irritation, but you don’t want it to be so red and inflamed that it drives you crazy. Going down the side effects rabbit hole, you can read about the side effects of Diprolene1:

  • application site reactions (burning, itching, irritation, redness, peeling, and dry skin),
  • thinning of your skin,
  • blistering skin

This can make you scratch your head (which you don’t want to do too much because you can dislodge little AKs lurking there). Because in treating a problem created by a treatment to avert a problem, you can create ANOTHER problem if you do it for too long.

The takeaway here might be, if you are doing any of these things, ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should treat. I usually ask the doctor to write it down but frankly for this one I can’t find the paper and I can’t remember how long. It does look like it is calming down though so I think I am going to stop.

2. Calcipotriene (Dovonex) and 5-fluorouracil (Efudex).

I am treating the inside of my forearms and both sides of both shoulders to dismantle those pesky actinic keratoses (AKs). I felt like I just did that, and they went away. The Mohs surgeon told me you just have to keep going after them.

3. Vaseline:

I apply this to the areas that are starting to “light up,” in other words get very irritated, during the treatment described in #2.

4. Sunscreen:

I apply EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 . I like that it is lightly tinted because although it doesn’t actually cover up the red line on my nose from the recent Mohs surgery, it does help to make it a little less visible. This is supposed to fade with time, but as the saying goes, time will tell.

And that’s it for my makeup, er, um, I mean my ointments and creams.

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