Detect, Dodge, and Deter Skin Damage
The importance of staying healthy is no secret. We all know how critical it is to monitor, regulate, and--if necessary--improve how our bodies work. While the majority of us understand the benefits of preventative care for our heart, lungs, and joints, we sometimes ignore our skin, which is the largest organ in the body.
Deter Skin Damage with Simple Habits
Adopting a few simple habits into your daily routine can, quite literally, save your skin!
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. Any sun-exposed area should be covered, including ears and bald spots on the scalp. Reapply every 2 hours when swimming.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Stay away from tanning beds. Exposure to the UV-radiation from tanning beds increases a person’s risk for skin cancer by 75%!
While it may be an unintentional oversight, lack of protection and care for our skin can lead to very serious consequences. Most can be treated very easily by non-invasive procedures if they are caught early. Others can become life-threatening if left undiagnosed.
Although moles with these features aren’t automatically cancerous, they do have a greater potential for dangerous abnormalities, and should monitored by your dermatologist. Here’s what the pros look for:
- Asymmetry: if one side of a mole doesn’t match the other
- Border Irregularity: borders are not sharp and round
- Color: many different colors in one mole
- Diameter: larger than 6mm (pencil eraser size)
- Evolving: changing shape or color
Moles aren’t thing you should keep a close eye on. Any areas on the skin that become crusty, painful, or begin to bleed should be seen by your provider immediately. Non-melanoma skin cancers can be recognized early by a few tell-tale characteristics:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This is the most common type of skin cancer, caused by a history of unprotected sun exposure. Usually found on the areas of the body that get the most sun. It is most often recognized as a “pearly” bump or patch that doesn’t go away.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
While also very common, these have a higher risk of spreading to the surrounding tissue and/or lymph nodes, and so must be caught as early as possible. They usually develop as crusty growths that bleed easily when scratched and are slow to heal.
This is the most serious form of skin cancer, and can be life threatening if left undiagnosed and untreated. Early detection is critical to prevent the melanoma from metastasizing--or spreading--to other areas of the body. A melanoma can occur as a completely new spot on the skin, or a change to an already existing mole, even areas with little to no sun exposure. Common treatment options include surgery and/or various medications; some cases may even require chemotherapy or radiation.
Don't Dodge the Yearly Exam
While a little TLC, and keeping an eye on your moles, can do wonders to prevent future skin damage, it’s essential that you include yearly skin exams as a part of your regimen too.
Your dermatologist can take a closer look at each and every mole and freckle, and can track or treat any changes that may occur. Call 757-461-1033 to schedule your comprehensive skin exam at Integrated Dermatology Group of Tidewater today!