Share The Health

Save Your Skin

05-02-2018

Our skin is our protector. It keeps our body safe from infection, injury and dangerous heat and cold. Yet our skin is not exempt from needing its own protection, most importantly from the sun.

Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer, partially because we all come in contact with the sun on a daily basis. There are various types of skin cancer, some less threatening than others. But each year there’s an increase in the worst result of sun exposure—melanoma. In the last 40 years, cases of melanoma have increased 250%.

By taking steps to protect your skin before you go outside, you can lessen your chance of developing skin cancer.

One of the top preventive measures is adding sun protection to your daily routine. Every morning apply about 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body. Using a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of 15 or higher is the best option for normal sun exposure. If you are spending extended time outside, reapply every two hours.

Other preventative methods include:

  • Seek shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Avoid sunburn. Reapply sunscreen immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Only one session in a tanning booth can increase your chance of developing skin cancer by 75%.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Many brands sell UV protective clothing to increase protection.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should always be used on babies over the age of six months.

In addition to these daily efforts, it’s also important to see your dermatologist for yearly check-ups. A thorough skin exam by a professional is key to detecting any abnormalities early on. This lowers your risk of problematic spots spreading throughout your body.

Additionally, you should examine your own skin head-to-toe every month. Your own actions are important in early detection. As soon as you see any spots that look new or different, contact your physician to get a skin exam.

How do you know if something looks suspicious? The signs of problem areas are different depending on the type of skin cancer.

For basal cell carcinomas look for flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to a scar or raised reddish patches that might be itchy. Shiny, pearly bumps that may have slightly blue or black areas can also be a sign of this type of carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinomas can appear as rough or scaly red patches, which might crust or bleed. Additionally, any open sores that don’t heal or heal and then come back, or any wart-like growths could be of concern.

For warning signs of melanoma, look for any new or changing moles on the skin. Follow the ABCDE rule for detection.

  • Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • Color: The color is not consistent and may include different shades or patches.
  • Diameter: The spot is larger than roughly the size of a pencil eraser, although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Always tell your doctor about spots with one or more of these features. Skin cancer is the only cancer you can see on the outside, so keeping track of how your skin changes is an important part of living an overall healthy lifestyle.

Cancer does not discriminate based on race, age, or background. Proactively taking care of your skin is the best way to stay safe and protect yourself from skin cancer.

At Frederick Memorial Hospital, we want to partner with you on your journey to keeping your body healthy. On Wednesday, May 16, FMH Women’s Health Services & Oncology Services is hosting Protect the Skin You’re In: An educational seminar on prevention, detection, and treatment of skin cancer from 5:30-7:30pm. This event is free and open to the public. Walk-ins are welcome but registration is recommended.

For more information on this event, or to register, visit fmh.org/calendar or contact Trish Reggio at 240-215-1447 or preggio@fmh.org.



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