It seems like only yesterday when we were busting out the holiday decorations and decking the halls with boughs of holly, so answer us this: how the heck is it May, already? You’re telling us a third of 2019 has been and gone? Mind. Officially. Blown.
So, with summer upon us and May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we felt it only right to address ways in which you can, and more importantly should protect your skin from this potentially life-threatening form of cancer.
There are three major types of skin cancer to be aware of: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma, which develops in the melanocytes (pigment cells), is the most serious and deadliest form of skin cancer, and worryingly, cases are on the rise. In fact, in the last thirty years, incidences of melanoma have more than doubled and current research predicts that one in five Americans will develop melanoma at some point during their lives.
And the number one cause of melanoma and all skin cancers? Yes, you’ve guessed it. Overexposure to UV radiation from both the sun and tanning beds. This is why protecting yourself from that big ball of fire in the sky, keeping an eye on your moles and avoiding tanning beds like the plague should be second nature.
Here’s how to make sure you’re 100 percent skin cancer savvy, all year round.
Protect Your Skin
As far as we’re concerned, you should always include a medical-grade, broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 in your daily skincare plan. And when we say daily, we mean every day of the year. Not just on sunny days, but all year long. Got it? Good. Apply it generously to your face and other exposed areas (hands, neck, chest etc.) and if you’re planning a day on the beach, ensure you use a good shot glass full to cover your entire body. Oh, and don’t forget to reapply generously and often.
Other great ways to protect your skin from damaging UV? Avoid lounging in the sunshine between 11am and 3pm, choose long-sleeve cotton tops and maxi dresses, and always wear a hat and sunglasses to help ward off crow’s feet.
And never, we repeat, NEVER allow your skin to get burned.
Check Your Moles
The basic rule of thumb when inspecting your body for moles, is to examine your skin from your toes to your scalp, without missing anything in between. You should do this at least once a month and, depending on your family’s history of skin cancer and your propensity to burn, it’s also advisable to get an in-office check every six to 12 months.
If you’re not 100 percent sure what a suspicious mole looks like, the Skin Cancer Foundation has come up with a cunning, easy-to-remember way of spotting the warning signs using your good old ABCs…
A is for Asymmetry: Benign moles are generally symmetrical, whereas an asymmetrical mole (ie: when the two halves don’t match if you draw a line through the middle) is a warning sign for melanoma. Eyes peeled.
B is for Border: Unlike a regular mole, the outline of melanoma is often ragged or notched, rather than smooth and sharp.
C is for Color: If you see a mole that’s a number of different colors, including brown, black, red, white, even blue, this is a big warning to make an appointment with your physician to get it examined.
D is for Diameter: Malignant moles are usually much bigger than benign ones, so be aware of unusually large moles and get them checked out.
E is for Evolving: Any change – whether it’s in size, color, shape or itchiness – is also a warning sign, so be on alert at all times.
Worried a mole has changed even slightly? Then get it checked out immediately. When caught early, skin cancer has a 98 percent cure rate. But the key is catching it early.