Okay, guys, it’s that time of the year again. It’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month and we need to preach the importance of sunscreen. Everyone knows that sunscreen prevents sun damage, and while we might sound like a broken record, you’d be surprised how many people still are not protecting their skin daily. So here we are again. We’re going to give you a quick rundown of why sunscreen needs to be a part of your everyday skin care routine and what product we suggest. Then we’ll go over some life-saving things to look out for and how you can help spread awareness!
With over 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year (that’s 1 in 5 Americans) skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Living in Arizona, we see the sun often. Even if you’re not planning on laying out or being outside for too long, wearing sunscreen is still important. Sun damage starts the minute you step outside. The accumulation of sun exposure through car windows and running errands all add up. Arizona has the second highest rate of Skin Cancer in the WORLD. And while we don’t mean to scare you, we don’t want you to think that it can’t happen to you. Not only does sun exposure put you at risk for cancer, but it also speeds up the aging process causing premature fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity and brown/red spots. Using a board spectrum daily sunscreen (30-50 SPF) is the best tool you can use in the combat against sun damage and aging.
As of 2012, the FDA regulated sunscreen to be properly labeled “broad-spectrum”. This means that it protects against both UVA and UVB. Using a sunscreen for both the face and body that is broad-spectrum protection is very important, as UVA and UVB both affect the skin differently. A product that we highly recommend, and use ourselves, is Revision Skincare’s Intellishade. This holy grail product is a tinted moisturizer, sunscreen, and anti-aging all in one. Best of all it is broad-spectrum and SPF 45. This product takes the extra step of having to apply sunscreen and eliminates it because it’s the only moisturizer you need in the morning.
Early detection is important with any cancer and self-exams can help you identify skin cancers early when they can almost always be completely cured. In order to successfully complete a self-exam, you need to know what to look for. That is where knowing your ABCDE’s comes in handy. A simple acronym to keep you on the lookout for anything suspicious on your skin.
A is for Asymmetry
The first step to a self-exam is to look for asymmetric tendencies. A benign mole would be completely symmetrical, or a perfect circle. Meaning you could draw a line through the mole and the bottom half of the mole would match the top half perfectly. If the mole is asymmetrical the top and bottom half would not match and would be a cause for concern. Asymmetrical moles are definitely a warning sign for possible melanoma. Be sure to get into a dermatologist right away.
B is for Border
The next thing to look for when looking over your skin is to check the borders of your moles. A benign mole has smooth even borders. Malignant moles and early melanoma moles tend to be uneven. The borders can be blurred, notched or have jagged edges. Remember that during a self-exam that it is important to look at every mole, every month, as your skin and moles could change from even to uneven or symmetrical to asymmetrical.
C is for Color
Most benign moles are all one color, typically a single shade of brown. Another warning sign to look out for is multiple colors. If a single mole has a variety of colors it would be a mole you would want to have looked at. More than one shade of brown, tan or black could appear yet melanomas can also become red, white or blue. If you notice any changes in color contact your doctor to get it checked out. The sooner the better.
D is for Diameter
If you notice any moles starting to grow in diameter, that can be a warning sign! Typically benign moles have a smaller diameter staying around the size of a pencil eraser, about a ¼ inch or 6mm. Malignant melanomas tend to be larger in diameter but can sometimes be smaller when first detected. If you notice any moles or freckles starting to change in size of diameter, get it looked at.
E is for Evolving
This is an important one to remember in that most benign moles look the same over time but be aware of any mole that was once benign and has started to change or evolve. Any change in size, shape, color, elevation or if it develops a new symptom like bleeding, itching or crusting – see a doctor.
Now that we covered all of the important observations you should be on the lookout for when doing a self-exam, remember that these self-exams should be done on a regular monthly basis. Early detection saves lives. Although self-exams are the first line of defense, seeing a dermatologist or doctor for a once a year full body scan is always recommended. Sometimes they can spot a suspicious mole that you would have never noticed. When caught early most skin cancers can be completely curable. Be on the lookout for your ABCDE’s for yourself and your loved ones. If your friends think their tougher than the sun and don’t wear sunscreen, educate them about its importance! It takes 2 extra minutes in the morning, and can save your life!