May: Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Thank you to our friends at Blue Ridge Dermatology for providing this information!

Just in time for sunshine, southern summer temps, and sunscreen...May is skin cancer awareness month!

The incidence of both non melanoma (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) and melanoma skin cancer rates continue to rise each year in the United States.

Now is the time to invest in a baseline skin examination by a dermatologist, and be educated on how to do an efficient and thorough monthly skin self-examination!  Skin cancers that are detected early, even melanomas, can often be cured by a simple excision or other less invasive treatment(s). 

Here are some tips:

 Whether you're in the garden or at the beach this summer...wear a hat!

Whether you're in the garden or at the beach this summer...wear a hat!

  • April through September: Avoid unprotected sun exposure, particularly between 11 AM and 4 PM to reduce the risk of getting a sun-induced skin cancer.   You don't have to stay indoors...but protect your skin!

  • Wear hats and protective clothing, apply broad spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen, and reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes when swimming or perspiring, or sooner if toweling off sun exposed skin.

  • Preventative care is critical!  Melanoma skin cancer can be independent of sun exposure and can, therefore, occur on any part of the body, not only where the sun shines.  Each month, take a few minutes to look at your own skin, head to toe.

  • Here's what you should be on the lookout for:
    • Moles, whether flat or raised, that are darker, larger, asymmetric, more irregular in border or color or pinker than the other moles on our bodies or than how they looked on the previous month.
    • Moles that are irritated, itching or bleeding should also be evaluated closely by a dermatologist.  Even moles present from birth can evolve into melanoma and should be watched for any visible changes.
    • Pimples that do not heal after a month, places that stay scaly or bleed easily should also be brought to the attention of a dermatologist. 
  • Ask your hair stylist to notice the skin of your scalp when your hair is wet
  • Visit the dentist and eye doctor regularly.
  • Ask a close friend or family member to check areas that are difficult to directly monitor ourselves.

Healthy skin habits take only a few minutes each day and screening yourself for skin cancer signs takes only a few minutes each month. Establishing these routines can literally save your life by preventing a skin cancer or detecting one in its earliest stages.

This May, please make a commitment to both protecting and monitoring your skin so that you can enjoy the great outdoors in great health for many years to come!