Skin care is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Knowing your skin and when to report changes in your skin to your healthcare provider can lead to early detection of skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the United States. Here are 5 self-care tips for your skin, and skin cancer prevention:
- Know Your Skin
The most common sign of skin cancer is changes in your skin, including new growths, sores that do not heal, or moles that change. Consider monthly head-to-toe self-examinations and annual full-body skin checks during your physical examinations, or a visit to the dermatologist.
- Compare and Contrast Growths
Because moles on one person tend to resemble one another, it is important to keep track of growths that do not fit your standard pattern. Atypical moles may look or feel different compared with your other moles. Look for changes in color, size, and thickness, and discuss them with your physician.
- Don’t Dismiss Serious Sensations
If you feel anxious or experience abnormal sensations from a particular lesion or growth, share your feelings with your physician. These sensations should be taken seriously and may lead to closer monitoring by a healthcare provider.
- Reduce Exposure to Ultraviolet Lights
A significant risk factor for skin cancer is excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, including sunlight, tanning beds, and sunlamps. Staying in the shade, using sunscreen, and covering your skin with shirts, hats, and sunglasses are some of the best ways to protect yourself from natural UV rays.
- Recognize Risk Factors
People with >50 common moles, many freckles, red or blond hair, or fair skin that sunburns easily are more likely to have skin cancer than someone with fewer moles and freckles, or darker features. In addition, people with a history or family history of dysplastic nevus syndrome should inform their doctor, and regularly have their skin thoroughly examined by a dermatologist.
- Scope A, Marghoob AA. The “ugly duckling” sign: an early melanoma recognition tool for clinicians and the public. Skin Cancer Foundation website. www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/melanoma-warning-signs-and-images/the-ugly-duckling-sign. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the symptoms of skin cancer? www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/symptoms.htm. Updated December 11, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2015.