Monday, September 24, 2012

Common sense tips about preventing skin cancer

As a redhead with very fair skin I had a number of  sunburns over the years.  Sunscreen was not pushed as much as it is today .  I would lay out in the sun and I think I even put baby oil on my skin.     I had a melanoma skin cancer 12  years ago at age 30   that was discovered by my primary care doctor doing a skin screening check .  Luckily it was caught early and my only follow up treatment has been going to the dermatologist  on a regular basis for   mole check and  an annual  chest x-ray.    A few weeks ago  I had my annual appointment and my dermatologist  found a mole that she didn’t like the look of.   She want to remove it and have it a biopsied on it. 

Here are some common sense tips that my doctor shared with me year ago to prevent a recurrence   I am not in the medical profession, so check with your own doctor for more details. 

1. Reduce your time in the sun.
  • Especially between 10am-3pm , when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest or when UV index is 3 or more.  

2. Shade your Skin
  • Seek shade under trees, or create your own shade with a hat, shirt, or umbrella.  We had a background pool and when I am watching the boys I make sure I have I am on the our cabana umbrella tent that  we have  on the pool deck.
  • If you are at the beach make sure you and the kids are still covered up. There are plenty of uv protection bathing suits out there. They may bit a pricey.   I make sure that my 3 boys who are very fair like their mom have the special tv shirts. 
  • If I am at the beach, I make sure I have a wide brim hat and  sitting under an umbrella or in my special chair.

3. Beware of clouds and winter time.
  • Up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate light clouds, mist and fog. You can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day.  You can still get a sunburn during the winter months.

4. Remember about Reflection
  • Water, sand, snow and concrete can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s damaging rays.

5. Slop on the Sunscreen
  • Use sunscreens with an SPF of 30  or more that contain both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 hours (more often when working, playing, or swimming).  Use Waterproof sunscreen for the kids  when they are swimming

6. Spot Check Your Moles Examine your moles and freckles every month to check for any changes. See your doctor immediately if you notice:
  • a mole or discoloration that appears suddenly or begins to change 
  • a sore that does not heal 
  • areas of skin that are red and bumpy, bleed or are itchy
  • Your doctor should also do a whole skin check during your annual physical. 
 Luckily this mole on my back was not cancerous so I will continue on with my life and using good judgment with the sun. 

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