May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. I can provide tips for managing this skin disease and detect it early when it’s most treatable.
No one wants to hear the word “cancer”; it is scary. It makes sense to go to a cardiologist if you have chest pain, but your skin won’t necessarily hurt if you have a skin cancer; therefore, it is sometimes undetected. I can tell you not only what to look out for, but also how to protect your body and catch skin cancer before it even stands a chance.
Know your ABCs!
Being proactive about monitoring any spots on your skin becomes easier if you know what you’re looking for. These are the “A, B, C, D, Es” of skin checks:
A– asymmetry. Draw a line through the middle of the mole; is it equal on both sides?
B– border. Does the area have a faded or a wavy border?
C– color. Is it more than one color, or a different color than the other moles?
D– diameter. Use a pencil eraser as a means of measurement; if it is larger than the eraser of a pencil, you want to have it checked.
E– evolution. Watch for changes, such as darkening, lightening, enlarging, becoming scaly, hurting, or bleeding.
UV rays don’t play favorites
While it’s true fairer skinned individuals develop skin cancer more frequently, it is untrue that people with darker pigments can’t get skin cancer. The sun doesn’t focus on just one person. Did you know you still get sun exposure on cold, cloudy days? UVA are the sunshine day rays, but UVB rays are aggressive and can break through the clouds. Both can cause serious health issues for anyone with any skin type.
Sunscreen isn’t for me
Other than staying out of the sun completely, sunscreen is your first line of defense. You and sunscreen may not have a good relationship, but that’s because you haven’t found YOUR sunscreen yet. Everyone’s skin is special and, lucky for you, it’s one of the doctor’s jobs to find a product that’s just right for you. Oily, dry, sensitive, acne prone – it’s all covered. Especially in our office, and our sunscreens won’t make you smell like you’re heading to the beach. If you want to pick your own sunscreen, that’s fine, too, but make sure it says “Broad Spectrum SPF30+” or else you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Make sure to reapply every two hours, and stay away from sprays; they don’t cover as well as you’d think.
In our office, we can remove skin cancers by using minor surgeries and curettage and electrodesiccation (scraping the skin cancer and controlled electric current). If a skin cancer is not discovered early, or if it’s on a tricky location like the face, patients are referred to a Mohs specialist for microscopically controlled surgeries.
Skin cancer is controllable if you catch it early. That’s why checkups are important. Take the time to take care of yourself; you are worth it.
Keep in touch with us through our website and Facebook page, and make sure to check back next month for the June edition: Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Thank you for choosing River Region Dermatology and Laser for all of your skin care needs!