As sunny skies beckon skiers and outdoor enthusiasts to the outdoors, Colorado Springs-based Colorado Dermatology Institute gears up for National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, this May.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be roughly 9,940 melanoma deaths this year in the U.S., which is approximately one death every hour. Additionally, about 73,870 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 42,670 in men and 31,200 in women).
“We see a lot of patients every day who have or have had some form of skin cancer,” said Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Reagan Anderson of the Colorado Dermatology Institute. Dr. Anderson recommends the following tips to decrease your chances of developing skin cancer in your lifetime:
1. Wear Sunscreen
While this tip brings us back to the basics, applying sunscreen on a regular basis is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Dr. Anderson recommends applying a sunscreen with SPF 30, and that contains either or zinc oxide and titanium dioxide before you go outside even on slightly cloudy or cool days.
Also consider using beauty products that contain sunscreen, to include facial moisturizers and lip balms. Don’t forget, sunscreen wears off. Reapply regularly, especially if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
2. Avoid Indoor Tanning
One of the worst things you can do for your skin is to expose yourself to direct UV radiation from sunlamps used in tanning beds. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found that the risk of Melanoma increased by 75 percent when users began tanning before age 35.
Many over-the-counter or in-salon products are available to achieve a glowing sunless tan that is safe for your skin. Look for bronzers and sunless tanners made from color additives approved by the FDA for cosmetic use, such as dihydroxyacetone. The result is a natural bronze.
3. Wear Sunglasses
When it comes to eye protection from UV light, not all sunglasses are created equal. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. In addition to protecting your eyes from UV rays, regularly wearing sunglasses also reduces the risk of cataracts by protecting the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.
4. Wear Protective Clothing and Seek Out Shade
The American Cancer Society identifies peak sun hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you are outside doing physical activity, or enjoying the weather mid-day, as many of us in Colorado do, give your skin a break from intense UV exposure by seeking out shade or wearing protective clothing to cover exposed arms and shoulders, or a wide brim hat to protect the sensitive skin on your nose, forehead and face.
5. Conduct Regular Skin Checks
Important warning signs of melanoma are changes in size, shape or color of a mole or other skin lesion, or the appearance of a new growth. Changes that progress for more than a month should be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist.
The American Cancer Society advises that basal cell carcinomas may appear as growths that are flat, or as small, raised, pink or red, translucent, shiny areas that may bleed following minor injury. Squamous cell cancer may appear as growing lumps, often with a rough surface, or as flat, reddish patches that grow slowly.
Another sign of basal and squamous cell skin cancers is a sore that does not heal. If you suspect any irregularities in your skin condition, seek an immediate consultation with your dermatologist. Mohs Micrographic Surgery is a surgical procedure for the removal of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is a highly precise and effective method for removing the visible tumor.
Dr. Anderson is a Board Certified Dermatologist, a Fellow Member of the American Society of Mohs Surgeons, and is one of approximately 40 Mohs surgeons in the U.S. to attain the prestigious American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology Certificate of Added Qualification in Mohs Micrographic Surgery.
For more information about preventative skin care, or to schedule an appointment, visit Colorado Dermatology Institute at CoDerm.com.