The sun is out and summer clothes are in. However, showing more skin increases the risk of skin damage from the sun’s harmful rays. Dr. Angela Walker, dermatologist with Renown Medical Group, shares what to know about preventing skin cancer.
What can people do to prevent skin cancer while enjoying the outdoors?
There are several steps you can take to protect your skin from the sun. “I caution all of my patients to avoid the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. I also encourage people to wear sleeves on cooler days. And don’t forget that we still need to wear sunscreen on cloudy days! UV rays can still cause sun damage on cloudy days. Preventing skin cancer also entails wearing sunscreen of at least SPF 30 everyday.
Are hats also a good idea for skin protection?
Yes, of course! Choose a wide-brim hat that shades the face as well as the back of the neck for extra protection against UV rays.
When it comes to identifying skin cancer, what should people watch for?
We use easy-to-remember letters when checking for spots on the skin; it’s called the ABCDEs:
- A is for asymmetry. This is when one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half. Normal moles are symmetrical.
- B is for borders. A mole with jagged edges may be cause for concern. Normal moles are round with even borders.
- C is for color. Normal skin spots are the same color. A skin spot with different shades or colors should be examined by a professional.
- D is for diameter. Any skin spot with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser is cause for concern.
- E is for evolution. If you have an odd looking skin spot that changes as the days go on, it needs to be seen by a skin doctor. Problematic spots may also itch, burn or bleed.
How often should people go to a dermatologist for a full-body skin check?
People with a family history of melanoma or who have already had skin cancer need to be screened at least once a year. Those who are younger and use sunscreen daily don’t need to be seen as regularly. Their primary care provider can do a yearly screening. And remember to do self-screening at home to keep an eye out for unusual looking spots.
Is it best to visit a care provider with an expertise in skin with questions or concerns?
Absolutely. As a dermatologist, I see a lot of people coming in with a changing mole or brown spot that looks irregular. I can assure them it’s benign or get them the treatment they need. We can even use photography to monitor skin spots and have the patient take photos at home. We also perform biopsies as needed.
Anyone who has questions or concerns about their skin can come in and see us at Renown Dermatology, Laser & Skin Care.