May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and this year, we’ll celebrate the ways we can be better to our own skin. Self-care is about mindfulness as much as it is about the practices we choose to include in our routines. Knowing what to pay attention to for optimal skin health can help us be intuitive with skincare, while also being able to spot signs that we should seek professional support for a problem.
Most skin cancers are caused by UV light. Almost 90% of melanoma skin cancers have been directly linked to radiation from the sun and can develop anywhere on the body. Melanoma is a quick spreading cancer, which makes it one of the most dangerous kinds. It usually looks like a mole but can be recognized by certain distinguishing characteristics, including asymmetry, poorly defined edges, irregular colors, a large size, or ongoing growth. An evolving, changing mole is a good indicator that melanoma might be responsible. These signs are indicators you should check in with a dermatologist to have a mole evaluation.
Keeping our skin in top condition is the best way for our bodies to naturally fight off damages. Avoiding the sun when possible, wearing clothes that cover us up, and using care products like moisturizers, exfoliants, and sunscreen are important for surface-level care. Moisturizers keep moisture in the skin tissue, which helps cells perform their regular repair and reproduction functions, including removal of dead cell material—exfoliants aid in removing that dead skin, evening the skin’s surface for smooth regrowth. Sunscreen is important to protect skin from UV rays that cause major skin drying and damage, and can lead to cancerous cell growth.
Skincare works from the inside-out as well. Staying hydrated is necessary for proper cell function, blood circulation, and nutrient movement through the body. Food and supplements provide the vitamins and minerals we need to build our bodies and give us the energy we need to get through each day. For those of us with health conditions of any kind, we might take medications that support some essential processes. Everyone’s body is different, so the first step of any skincare routine will be based on knowing your unique health needs.
Skin cancer can be sneaky -- even the most rigorous self-exams sometimes can't catch sun damaged skin the way a dermatologist's trained eyes can. Going in for a skin cancer screening might seem intimidating, but it's one of the best ways to catch early signs of skin cancer and treat them before your condition becomes something serious. If you're not in a high-risk group, once-yearly screenings are typically great. However, if you have a family or personal history of skin cancer, light skin tone, or extensive sun damage on your skin, your doctor may want to see you more frequently.
If you haven’t had a check-up or a screening recently, it might be something to think about doing during this Skin Cancer Awareness month. Schedule a consultation today with one of our specialists to support your long-term health and well-being.