Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer and Melanoma - Page

  • Posted on: May 21 2024
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asarch blog ways to prevent skin cancer and melanomaSummer is here, which means the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest. If you spend a lot of time in the sun working, exercising, swimming, or sunbathing, it goes without saying that you should take extra precautions.

But UV rays are more powerful (and much sneakier) than you think, easily penetrating through clouds, glass, and more. That pure snow Colorado is famous for? UV rays also bounce off surfaces like snow, water, and sand. Even on cold winter days, the potential for sun damage rarely goes away.

The skin care experts at Asarch Dermatology want to help keep your skin as protected and healthy as possible. What are some of the best ways to prevent skin cancer and melanoma? Who’s at greater risk for them? And when should you visit a dermatologist? Let’s answer all these questions and more.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. There are three main types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Basal and squamous cells are located in the top layer of your skin, which means they are directly exposed to UV rays. Basal cell carcinoma often appears as a shiny bump, a raised pink or red spot, or a sore that won’t heal. Squamous cell carcinoma, which is more severe, may appear as a raised, scaly lesion or an open, growing sore that won’t heal.

Common early signs of melanoma include a dark mole or lesion that:

  • Grows larger
  • Looks different from other moles on your skin
  • Has an uneven border or odd shape
  • Is multi-colored (usually a variation of brown and black)

Melanoma is much less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but it’s also much more likely to invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. Most deaths from skin cancer are caused by melanoma.

But here’s the upside – skin cancer can often be cured when it’s found and treated early enough, even melanoma. That’s why regular self-exams and annual skin cancer screenings are so important.

If you’re due for a skin cancer screening, contact your Asarch dermatologist today.

Ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer and melanoma

Aside from self-exams and skin cancer screenings (yes, we had to say it one more time!), there are many other ways to practice sun safety and limit UV exposure.

Watch the clock

UV rays are strongest from 10 AM to 2 PM, so use extra caution during these times and find shade whenever you can.

Be diligent about sunscreen

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a summer day of swimming or a winter day of skiing – even on overcast days, you still need sunscreen. We recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Be sure to reapply at least every two hours.

No indoor tanning

It may be tempting to use indoor tanning beds during Colorado winters to keep your summer glow, but indoor tanning exposes you to high levels of artificial UV rays. Use self-tanning products instead.

Dress appropriately

Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection, to protect your skin and eyes.

Am I at risk for skin cancer and melanoma?

Anyone can get skin cancer, but you’re at higher risk if you have:

  • Fair skin
  • Freckles
  • Blond or red hair
  • Blue or green eyes

You’re at higher risk of developing melanoma if you have:

  • Moles that grow unevenly or change color or texture
  • A large number of moles (50+)
  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • A personal history of blistering sunburns, especially when you were a child or teenager
  • A family history of melanoma

To learn more about your personal risk for skin cancer and melanoma, ask your Asarch dermatologist.

When to see a dermatologist

An estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. But again, skin cancer is highly treatable when it’s caught early enough.

Be sure to schedule a skin cancer screening every year. At least once a month, you should also examine your body from head to toe, including your scalp and the soles of your feet. If you notice a spot that looks different from others, is itching or bleeding, or has changed in any way, contact us right away.

Come see your skin cancer specialists

At Asarch Dermatology, we provide the most up-to-date skin cancer treatments and procedures (including Mohs surgery) and the highest standard of care. We also provide solutions to help you prevent skin cancer and melanoma, including recommendations for sunscreen and other skin care products.

Don’t let skin cancer start – and certainly don’t let it spread. Schedule an appointment today.

Posted in: Skin Cancer, Skin Care

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