Simple Ways to Prevent and Detect Skin Cancer
We all know this is Texas. When it’s summer it’s HOT pretty much all the time. And when there is more sun, there is often more skin exposure. I have a personal history with skin cancer so I want to talk about some simple ways you can prevent and detect it.
Cover up with clothes and sunscreen.
As a rule of thumb, cover up as much as possible. Be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses. (Double benefit of sunglasses: less squinting. Squinting creates wrinkles). Use broad spectrum (UVA/B) sunblock with SPF 15 or higher every day. If you’ll be active outdoors, opt for a water-resistant, UVA or UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. (Sunscreens should be used on babies over six months of age.)
Avoid harsh sun and tanning.
Avoid getting a sunburn at all costs. Skip the tanning and never use UV tanning beds. If you love the sun kissed look try an airbrush spray tan. With the right technician you won’t walk out a streaky Oompa Loompa in the same way you might if your not a pro at the DIY versions. The sun is strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM, so try to avoid the sun during these hours and find some shade. Make sure to keep newborns out of the sun.
Perform a head-to-toe self exam.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone practices a self examination every month. Skin cancers found and removed early are, more often than not, curable. You may find having a doctor perform the initial examination will help assure you that any existing spots, moles or freckles are totally normal and treat any that aren’t. After that a routine self exam shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.
Get your partner involved.
In addition to seeing your physician annually for a professional skin exam, have your partner keep an eye out for any changes in your skin. Sometimes they see parts of our bodies that we don’t see everyday (like the small of our back or behind your neck). Have a discussion about the importance of paying attention to changes in your skin and make sure you return the favor by keeping an eye on any changes on their skin. My boyfriend at the time was the one who noticed my spots on my back. He had commented that they seemed darker than my other freckles or moles and since I couldn’t see them, I made sure they got checked at my next exam. It turns out that simple comment may have saved my life.
Get regular massages.
First, you should know, it’s not up to your massage therapist to check you for signs of cancer, but it definitely can’t hurt having an extra set of eyes on you! Again, because of my history with skin cancer I have developed a keen eye for catching warning signs over time. When you are receiving regular massages Oxford Massage Studio, I will become familiar with your body and all the little markings that go with it. Sometimes, a massage therapist is a first line of defense since I will notice if a birthmark, freckle, or mole has changed size or shape.
Prevention is only half the battle. And hopefully it’s the only battle you will ever face. If you should happen to find yourself in a different battle, the early detection of skin cancer is paramount. The sooner you catch it, the better your chances are of beating it.
Enjoy your summer, but remember to protect yourself from the sun and bring ANYTHING suspicious to your doctor immediately.