Living in Southern California, our incidence of skin cancer and melanomas is dramatically increased due to our love of the outdoors combined with increased sun exposure. Here are some tips to keep skin safe from damage and disease
Sun avoidance is the best defense against skin cancer. Seek shade between 10 am and 4 pm when the ultraviolet rays (the main culprit of skin cancer) are the most intense. Another clue that you should seek shelter is if your shadow is shorter than you are tall. This means the sun's rays are at their most damaging.
Yes, the sun's rays are strong enough to pierce through clothing, so be sure and wear light-colors, tightly woven clothing as well as wide-brimmed hats.
Apply sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15. An SPF of 15 applied properly will allow a fair-skinned person who sunburns in 20 minutes to tolerate 15 times 20 minutes (300 minutes) without burning. However, using sunscreens does not give you license to spend extra time in the sun because other sun rays (UVA or infrared) can still sneak in through sunscreen.
If any growth, mole, sore or skin discoloration appears suddenly or begins to change, see your dermatologist immediately.
THE ABCD's OF MOLES
After having an initial mole check with your dermatologist, here are some things to keep close watch on:
This is when one half of a mole doesn't match the other half
B: BORDER IRREGULARITY
This is when the edges of a mole are ragged, notched, or blurred.
A mole's pigmentation should be uniform.
If the width of a mole is greater than six millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser), have a dermatologist check it out.
If any moles look suspicious, get thee to a dermatologist quickly! Also, remember that you cannot see moles on your back, on the back of your legs, etc. Have your esthetician, a partner or good friend tell you if any moles need attention.