Sun is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. There are several things that people can do to protect themselves from the sun. Finding melanoma early is absolutely crucial because when treated early melanoma is almost 100% curable. To find melanoma early it is important that the skin is checked regularly for signs of skin cancer.
Tips for preventing melanoma
- Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection formula (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. The sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever possible.
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Avoid tanning beds because this increases your risk of melanoma by 75%.
- Use extra caution near sand, water, and snow because they reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.
Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the skin and is one of the few cancers that is visible to the naked eye. Dermatologists recommend you examine your body, front and back with arms raised in the mirror. A hand mirror can be used to check arms, back of legs, neck, scalp, genitals and buttocks. The freckles, moles, and age spots that are seen should be noted during each exam looking for any changes in shape, size and color. Melanoma can appear under finger or toe nails. Beneath a nail, the most common early warning sign of melanoma is a brown- to black-colored nail streak. Another early warning sign is a spot that looks like a bruise. The bruise may fade and then come back. If a mole is noticed that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds (even if it is small), an appointment with a dermatologist should be made. If you are in the Dallas, Sunnyvale or Rockwall area, book an appointment with our physician.