When the sun is shining, even cool temperatures are bearable to spend time outside and enjoy a beautiful day. It’s important to take care when you’re in the sun, however, since too much sun can be detrimental to your health.
Everyone is at risk for skin cancer developing from sun exposure, although that may vary by individual based on certain risk factors like how much time you spend in the sun and whether or not you have a history of skin cancer in your family. There are many preventative steps that can be taken to avoid the possibility, but avoiding the sun completely can be very difficult. Keeping an eye on your own skin and getting a periodic checkup can increase your chances of preventing the development of cancer.
Skin cancer occurs when UV rays damage cells, and they reproduce at an uncontrolled rate. This accumulation of cells damages tissue and can have a severe impact on your overall health. Signs of skin cancer can be easy to spot, unlike other forms of cancer that can more easily go unnoticed.
The early stages of skin cancer usually look like a mole or small discolored mark that recently formed on your skin. Most harmless moles and freckles are formed in adolescence, so a new spot that doesn’t look like a normal beauty mark may be an early indicator of irregular growth.
Dermatologists begin their mole evaluations with a system based on visual assessment. They use a series of criteria (symmetry, border definition, color, diameter, and ongoing changes) to decide whether the mark should be sampled. If so, the test will analyze a small piece of the skin to verify whether or not it is the early stages of skin cancer.
Sun can damage our skin at any age, so prevention should begin in childhood. Parents who keep their children in clothes that cover their skin and apply sunscreen to parts that can’t be covered like the hands and face will reduce their kids’ risk of sun damage at a young age.
As adults, we have to take care of ourselves, so choosing to wear clothes that cover our skin, putting on sunblock when we go outside, and, when possible, avoiding the sun in the middle of the day will decrease our own chances of developing skin cancer as we age. Work, social events, and exercise inevitably bring us outside, so make protective choices with your skin’s health in mind.
If you’ve never had a skin evaluation, it may be a good idea to get a checkup for a baseline reference, then do regular monitoring of your own skin. A yearly checkup is recommended, like with any doctor, to stay on top of your health.
If you or someone in your family has a history of skin cancer, it’s recommended to get an evaluation twice a year in addition to self-monitoring. This is to catch any suspicious growth in the early stages.
Contact us today to schedule a preventative skin cancer screening.