COVID-19 has become of the centerpiece of modern life that seems to overshadow all else, yet skin cancer remains an ongoing concern. Millions of people are affected by skin cancer each year, and it is a completely preventable disease. Because May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we want to take this opportunity to share some best practices for how to protect your skin.
Minimize Sun Exposure
Social distancing is challenging, and spending time outdoors is a welcome relief that we all exercise with caution. When you are outside, limit your exposure to the sunlight. You can be outdoors and remain in shaded areas, or just shorten the time that you spend outside your home. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and shoes that cover your feet. Children should be outdoors for shorter periods of time, and we recommend against taking newborns outdoors in areas with sunlight.
Use a High-Quality Sunscreen
Before you go outside, apply a high-quality sunscreen to your skin, even in areas that you believe will be protected by clothing. The sunscreen should be labeled to protect against UVA and UVB rays, and the SPF should be 15 or higher. For those days when you need to be outdoors longer, use a SPF 30 sunscreen. Sunscreens that contain vitamin C are known to reduce sun damage and premature aging of the skin.
How to Properly Use Sunscreen
Apply about one tablespoon of the sunscreen over your face and body at least 30 minutes before going outside. If you need to reapply the product, you will need to do so in the shade and wait 30 minutes again.
Perform a Self-Examination
Self-examinations are an important part of preventing skin cancer, early detection, and effective treatment. You should perform self-examination every day.
How to Perform a Self-Examination of Your Skin
The goal of a skin self-examination is two-fold. First you want to recognize any changes to existing dark spots. Second, you want to be able to recognize any new dark spots on your skin. Some people use a skin journal to do this while photographs work best for others. You may need someone to help with the scalp, back, buttocks, and other areas.
- Start with your face. Pay special attention to areas that are most exposed to sunlight, such as your nose, eyelids, and lips, but every part of your face should be examined.
- Move to your scalp. This may be more challenging if you have long or thick hair, but take your time. A blow dryer can help move your hair around.
- Look at the front and back of your ears, including the area of your neck that is behind your ears.
- Examine your neck the front, back, and sides of your neck.
- Look at your hands. Check the palms, between the fingers, back of the hands, under your fingernails, and wrists. Move up to your forearms, upper arms, and shoulders.
- Check your entire torso, including the chest, abdomen, and pelvic area.
- Move to your back and examine the upper, middle, and lower portions, as well as your buttocks.
- Move down to your feet, examining the soles, between the toes, and tops of the toes, slowly move up to your ankles, shins, knees, and thighs. Be sure to check the area between your upper thighs.
We are Here to Help
If you find a dark spot on your skin or notice a change in a growth of dark spot, we are here to help. We are offering virtual consultations and emergency services as needed. Contact us if you have concerns about a spot that you find on your skin, and we will recommend the next steps to take.