Skin Cancer Prevention Tips and Warning Signs You Should Know
The days are heating up and the time for fun in the sun is here. As you prepare for a summer full of days by the pool, outdoor barbeques, and time spent in the great outdoors, it’s important to keep your skin in mind.
Harmful UV rays from the sun are extremely damaging to the skin and are a major risk for developing skin cancer. That means skin cancer prevention should be a priority this summer whenever you venture outside.
Since May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, now is a great time to brush up on the warning signs of skin cancer and learn how to prevent it.
What is Skin Cancer? Each year in the United States, millions of people are diagnosed with skin cancer. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer by the age of 70.
Although that number is staggering, skin cancer is one of the easiest types of cancer to treat if it is caught early. As such, knowing the signs of skin cancer is extremely important.
Correctly identifying a concerning area and seeking medical care drastically increases your risk of surviving and decreases the risk of developing complications.
Types of Skin Cancer
The term “skin cancer” is a bit misleading since it can take many forms. No two people will share the same experience with skin cancer. That being said, there are three main types to be aware of.
The first is called basal cell carcinoma. This mainly occurs in fair-skinned people and is the most common type of skin cancer. However, it can affect people of any skin tone.
The second type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It occurs most frequently on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun without protection.
The third main type of skin cancer is melanoma. This is the most dangerous type and is life-threatening if left untreated. As such, it needs to be treated aggressively and quickly. Melanoma most often arises from an existing mole but can also appear as a new dark spot on the skin.
Skin Cancer Warning Signs
Frequently assessing your skin for things that look out of place is the best way to identify a potentially cancerous area. When it comes to identifying skin cancer, the most important thing to remember is the “ABCDEs.”
· Asymmetry: Look for moles that look asymmetrical. Normal, healthy moles should be symmetrical. A mole that looks different on one side than the other could be cancerous.
· Border: Healthy moles should have a round, smooth border. If the border is jagged or irregular, it could be dangerous.
· Color: Normal moles are one color, ranging from light tan to darker brown. If a mole is more than one color, or if it changes color, that could be a warning sign for skin cancer.
· Diameter: Healthy moles are typically less than six millimeters wide. For reference, that’s about the size of a pencil eraser. Although some healthy moles may be larger, they should still be examined by a doctor.
· Evolving: Typically, moles don’t change once they arise. If you notice a mole or area on your skin changing, it’s time to visit the doctor.
How to Decrease Your Skin Cancer Risk
As mentioned, summer is a high-risk time of year for developing skin cancer because many people are out enjoying the sun. These skin cancer prevention tips will help you lower your risk.
· Use sunscreen. This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent sun damage to your skin. Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen after getting in the water or after several hours outdoor. Be sure to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 if you plan to spend more than a few hours outside.
· Don’t spend too much time in the sun. Although it’s tempting to lounge by the pool all day, remember to take breaks and enjoy time in the shade as well. Limiting your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is especially important for reducing your risk of skin cancer.
· Avoid tanning beds and sunburn. UV tanning beds greatly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. The same is true of sunburn.
· Check in with your doctor. Be sure to visit your doctor once a year for a thorough skin exam. This helps catch skin cancer early and increases your odds of survival. You should also visit the doctor whenever you spot a concerning area.
Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help
If you’re worried that you might be developing skin cancer or find a concerning area while checking your skin, Velocity Urgent Care is ready to help. Our providers will perform a thorough exam and determine if further assessment is needed.
If so, we can refer you directly to a specialist thanks to our partnership with Sentara Healthcare. You’ll be able to get the treatment you need in the shortest time possible from one of nearly 4,000 providers in the surrounding area.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or occupational health services.
Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when
it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.
Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome. To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.