With one in five Americans developing skin cancer within their lifetimes, establishing healthy prevention and early detection habits is a must. Visiting local dermatologists is an important part of any skin health care regimen, as it offers patients access to the full range of dermatology services, but a significant portion of prevention happens at home. Following these basic self care methods will keep you on track to healthier skin.
- Cover Up: Shield your skin from harmful UV radiation by adding layers of protection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs, as well as a hat and sunglasses. They also advise applying sunscreen, of 15 SPF or higher, to exposed skin, and staying in shaded areas during midday hours. The CDC also emphasizes that these care rules apply during all seasons, not just during the summer months.
- Self Examine: The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends performing head-to-toe skin checks on yourself twice per month. This practice serves to “find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous.” You can perform this check by standing in a well-lit area in front of a full-length mirror.
Be thorough in your examination, using a hand-held mirror to check places that are difficult to see. Also remember to check hidden places, such as the scalp and between your toes. Sit in a chair to more thoroughly check the lower half of your body. Your demonologist can show you exactly how to perform this exam.
- Watch For Warning Signs: Knowing what skin cancer looks like can aid in early detection. The Skin Cancer Foundations recommends knowing the acronym ABCDE:
- Asymmetry: Check if one half of the mole is different from the other.
- Border: If the outer edge of the mole is irregularly shaped, it may be problematic.
- Color: The mole should be one uniform color, so multiple colors is a warning sign.
- Diameter: A benign mole should be about the size of a pencil eraser, not larger.
- Evolving: Does the mole seem to be changing shape over time? If so, get it checked out.
- Schedule Regular Checkups: The only way to truly ensure your overall skin health is to visit one of your local dermatologists. Regular skin checkups, as well as checkups of specific moles, lesions and growths, are best performed by a doctor.
As melanoma rates continue to increase, adopting healthy self care practices is essential. With each passing year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than cases of breast, prostate and lung cancer combined. With risks like this, prevention and early detection can save lives. Research your options for local dermatologists to learn more about how you can take steps toward better skin health.