5 Skin Health Tips for Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention
More than 5 million skin cancer cases are reported in the United States each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the United States. Of those cases, an estimated 91,270 people are diagnosed with the most lethal form of skin cancer, Melanoma. While Melanoma only makes up about 1 percent of all skin cancer cases each year, it accounts for the most deaths.1
But there’s good news! There are things you can do to help prevent it. No one is invincible, so it’s important to not only care for your skin for skin cancer prevention, but also to check your skin regularly to detect signs of it.
How Do I Check Myself for Skin Cancer?
Knowing your own skin is a major part in detecting skin cancer early on. The first time you examine your skin at home, be sure to memorize all the marks on your body (freckles, moles, birth marks, etc.) as best you can. If you don’t trust your memory, write it down or create a note on your phone or tablet so you can reference it the next time you do a skin check. This will help you recognize any new markings on your body.
If you notice a new spot, one that increases in size or changes texture, you should consult with your dermatologist or general physician.2
When conducting your own skin examination at home, follow these steps:
- Check your body – front and back – in the mirror.
- Bend your arms to look at your forearms.
- Raise your arms to look at your underarms.
- Sit down to look at the back of your legs and your feet.
- Use a handheld mirror to check your scalp and the back of your neck.
- Use a handheld mirror to check any other hard to reach places, like your lower back or bottom.
When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable, so make it a priority to check your skin.3 Mark it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget!
Who Should Check for Skin Cancer?
Everyone should check their skin for signs of skin cancer, and it becomes even more important as you age. Consider this: One in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.5
How Often Should You Check for Skin Cancer?
Most doctors recommend checking your own skin once a month for any abnormalities but checking more can’t hurt! You should also make sure you get a skin exam done by a doctor at least once a year.4
Top Tips for Skin Cancer Prevention
Whether you’re spending more time participating in outdoor activity to stay healthy or having summer fun with your kids and grandkids, it’s important to keep your skin safe through it all. Here are some great tips to keep in mind when doing activities outside in the summer and all year-round.
Apply and Reapply Sunscreen
Don’t just apply sunscreen once. You should reapply every two hours (and sometimes more often if you’re in the water) for sunscreen to work effectively. Use about a quarter-sized drop for your face and enough to generously coat the rest of your body. Be sure to use sunscreen even on cloudy days and even if you’re in the sun for just a short amount of time.
Do you have kids or grandkids? Most people are better about putting sunscreen on kids than they are themselves! This summer make it a personal rule that every time you reapply your kid or grandkids’ sunscreen, you reapply yours too.
Wear a Hat
One of the most prevalent places for skin cancers to appear is on the head or neck. In fact, 82 percent of skin cancers are found in those areas.6 When you’re going to be spending time outside, make sure to wear a hat to protect the top of your head. So you don’t get caught outside without one, leave a hat in your car or in your bag if you carry one.
Be Cautious in the Car
Speaking of cars, most people don’t think of how much sunlight comes through the windows. Take a second to think about how much sun exposure the tops of your hands are getting on the steering wheel. To help with skin cancer prevention, leave some sunscreen in your car and think twice before you lay your arm out the window when it’s rolled down.
Hang Out in the Shade
One simple way to help prevent skin cancer is to limit your sun exposure. But that doesn’t mean you should stay inside all day. After all, vitamin D is great for your health. To help limit sun exposure, simply find shade when possible. Do you want to have a picnic? Set up under a tree instead of in the open. This seemingly small change could save your skin in the long run!
If you do get a sunburn, be sure to apply soothing lotions or gels with calming agents like aloe vera. This can help reduce redness and inflammation, as well as prevent peeling.
To many, summer is the best time of the year! With so many outdoor activities to do in such little time, it’s easy to forget about your skin. Whether you’re quickly working on your garden or you’re playing a full round of golf, remember that protecting your skin is an important part of maintaining your overall health!
1, 2, 4 Skin Cancer Foundation. Web page: If You Can Spot It You Can Stop It. (n.d.) Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/if-you-can-spot-it-you-can-stop-it.
3 American Academy of Dermatology. Web page: Detect skin cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/detect.
5 Skin Cancer Foundation. Web page: Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts#general
6 Skin Cancer Foundation. Web Page: Sun Safety in Cars. (2016, August 8). Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/shade/sun-safety-cars.