As the winter snow melts away and the sun begins to shine we can rest assure that spring is headed our way and shortly behind it, summer! That’s the time of the year when we hit the beaches, kick up our outside workout routines and picnic at local state parks hoping to catch some rays. As you pack your lunches, fill your water bottle and throw your bathing suits on, don’t forget the sunscreen!!
Sunscreen should be worn daily on your hands and face, even in the winter months, as those areas are always exposed to the sun. However, as we peel off layers of clothing with increasing spring and summer temperatures, it’s important to apply sunscreen to any exposed area of skin and ensure that our kids and loved ones are also slathering up. Exposure to the suns rays without skin protection is the largest risk for the development of skin cancers.
In addition to protecting our skin and decreasing the risk of associated skin problems, we need to remember to check our skin for new freckles and areas of changing color/pigmentation. If you check your skin daily or at least weekly, you can catch areas of changing pigmentation and new freckles that might be concerning before they become a real problem.
The ABC’s of Skin Care are listed below and provide a guideline for those daily/weekly skin checks. If any areas or your skin exhibits signs of A, B, C, D or E it should raise your index of suspicion and prompt you to follow up with a Dermatologist, or Podiatrist if these are areas on your feet.
A – Asymmetry: The lesion is asymmetric if you bisect it and the two halves are not symmetrical.
B – Border: Any border that is raised, scalloped or blurry may be abnormal.
C – Color: If the lesion is more than one shade or several different colors, or if the coloration of the lesion has changed, take notice.
D – Diameter: Any lesions larger than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) or a lesion that is growing in size, should raise cause for concern.
E – Elevation: Any lesion that is raised off the surface of the skin is considered elevated, and is worth having your Dermatologist or Podiatrist take a look.
Noticing any of these changes early-on significantly improves your long term outcome should any of the lesions turn out to be skin cancer, and if they turn out not to be skin cancers, you can sleep easy at night knowing that.
Just as a reminder, here are some things you can do to help decrease your risks:
Always apply sunscreen before leaving the house, especially to your face and hands, as they are always exposed to the sun.
NEVER tan in a tanning booth.
Check your skin daily, or at least weekly, using the ABC’s as a gauge of changing freckles or new areas of interest.
Schedule your yearly Dermatologist check-up. They can assure you aren’t missing any skin changes putting your mind at ease.
If you notice any areas of new or changing discolorations on your feet or around your toenails, especially changes that are darkly pigmented, see your Podiatrist for evaluation.
Next week we’ll tackle some of the specific cancers that can be seen on the lower extremities. This information is not intended to scare you or to induce paranoia, but rather to inform you so that you can decrease your risks and live a long, healthy life!