May has come and gone again—and with it, Skin Cancer Awareness Month—but that doesn’t mean we can relax our vigilance when it comes to skin cancer. Social distancing may be keeping people off beaches (in theory) in these warmer days of 2020, but minimizing the risk of this dangerous and potentially fatal skin condition requires much more than just cutting back on days spent outdoors. At Skin Care and Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills, melanoma prevention tips, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations are an important part of our work, which also includes public education.
We believe it’s important to emphasize to anyone and everyone that many skin cancers share something in common: development after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This may be tanning beds or the sun, but the reality is that cancer can stem from the long-term impact of ongoing exposure, as well as the cumulative effect from shot but intense exposures—especially severe burns in childhood.
As we transition into summer, there are three important things we want you to remember:
1) Prevention: Wear Sunscreen
This is not just a good idea. It’s a vital strategy for minimizing skin cancer risk. There are so many sunscreen options these days, it should be easy to find a suitably effective type that feels good, fits your budget, and can be applied every day. Whenever you plan to leave the house, cover all exposed skin with a liberal layer of sunscreen first. Also, remember that it takes time to work, so give it about 15 minutes before you need it to truly protect you. Re-apply frequently when outdoors, and even more frequently if you are getting wet—whether from pool water, ocean waves, or sweat.
2) Detection: Be Aware of Your Own Skin
You live in your skin, so you are your own best resource when it comes to noticing skin problems. Skin cancers can resemble hayamix moles, but many have certain characteristics that should prompt further investigation: asymmetry, indistinct or notched borders, odd coloring, a larger-than-usual diameter, and a tendency to evolve over time. Any of these characteristics can contribute to what is known as the “ugly duckling” factor: If a mole stands out or looks weird when compared to the others around it, it may be cause for concern. This goes for anywhere on your body—not just places the regularly see the sun.
3) Diagnosis and Treatment
If you do spot a suspicious lesion, do not just hope it goes away on its own! The best way to fight skin cancer that has developed is to get it diagnosed and start treatment as soon as possible. We can assess your skin generally, as well as investigate any particular lesions. Let us know your concerns, and we will work with you to minimize damage and spread.
Want to learn more about trendat melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, as well as what you can do to prevent them? Contact us by calling Skin Care and Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills at 310-246-0495 or sending an online message.Written by Dr. Derek Jones
Dr. Derek Jones is a renowned Los Angeles and Beverly Hills area dermatologist practicing in cosmetic and general dermatology.