Finally Spring Break has arrived! All winter I have been looking forward to returning the beaches and warming up in the sunshine! It’s also the first time my skin will be exposed to the great outdoors for any extended amount of time. How do we protect our winter skin on these gorgeous sunny spring days?
Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US most often caused by dangerous UV rays . UV damage can not only make you sick but also lead to premature aging, wrinkles, skin discoloration and heightened skin sensitivity.
During the summer we tend to spend more time outdoors and in direct sunlight; but when it comes to our skin we need to remain vigilant about caring for the health of our largest organ, our skin.
The National Cancer Institute recommends self exams. The best time to do this exam is after a shower or bath. Check your skin in a room with plenty of light. Use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror.
It’s best to begin by learning where your birthmarks, moles, and other marks are and their usual look and feel.
Check for anything new:
- A new mole (that looks different from your other moles)
- A new red or darker color flaky patch that may be a little raised
- A new flesh-colored firm bump
- A change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole
- A sore that doesn’t heal
Check yourself from head to toe:
- Look at your face, neck, ears, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so that you can see better. You also may want to have a relative or friend check through your hair. It may be hard to check your scalp by yourself.
- Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Then, raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.
- Bend your elbows. Look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides), and upper arms.
- Examine the back, front, and sides of your legs. Also look around your genital area and between your buttocks.
- Sit and closely examine your feet, including your toenails, your soles, and the spaces between your toes.
By checking your skin regularly, you’ll learn what is normal for you. It may be helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and to write notes about the way your skin looks. If your doctor has taken photos of your skin, you can compare your skin to the photos to help check for changes. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor. (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/skin/page15)
The US Dept of Health and Human Services recommends using these tips to protect your skin from dangerous UV rays.
- Stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm
- Use Sunblock or Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher (Check out our physical Sun Block)
- Cover up with long sleeves and a hat
- Check your skin regularly for any changes