MAIN SITE BLOG HOME

MAY: Melanoma Month

If we have learned anything over the past year, living life “unprotected” can have serious consequences.  Since the pandemic has decreased our social options, many of us are spending more time than usual outside; this means more opportunity for sun exposure.  With the potential for removing masks in the very near future, I expect the time outside to continue to increase as we are able to loosen the social reins. It’s important to think ahead about protecting our skin from UV rays.  Skipping this simple step will not only cause pre-mature skin aging but can also lead to a devastating diagnoses of Melanoma.

Use multiple tools to help decrease sun exposure like applying and re-applying broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen every 2 hours, seeking shade, wearing a wide-brim UV protected sun hat and sunglasses, and limiting high-sun exposure time because it’s easy to over-look your next sunscreen application and end up with unintended sun exposure, especially when you are working outside or  having a great time with friends.  Did you know, according to the CDC, the occurrence of melanoma has doubled within the past three decades in the United States? One person now dies of melanoma every hour of every day.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Melanoma Month was put into place to encourage efforts to increase awareness about melanoma, the dangers of UV exposure, how to identify suspicious skin changes, and how to protect yourself and your family. UV exposure cannot only cause pre-mature aging such as wrinkles, lines, rough, uneven texture, brown spots and spider veins, but it primarily responsible for all forms of skin cancer.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most-deadly form of skin cancer.  It develops in pigment producing cells called melanocytes. While basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are more common forms of skin cancer, melanoma takes more lives because it can quickly spread to other organ if it is not diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

 

What does melanoma look like? What should I look for?

  1. A spot, lesion, bump or mole that becomes painful, tender, itchy, or bleeds and doesn’t heal.
  2. Visual changes on the skin such as shape, color, size, flaking or bleeding of a new or existing spot.
  3. A spot, lesion, bump or mole that looks shiny, waxy or pale in color.
  4. Red bumps that become crusty and / or bleed.
  5. Red, flat spot that has a rough texture, is dry or scaly.
  6. One half of a mole or a pigmented spot that is an uneven shape (asymmetrical) or has irregular or ill-defined borders.

***This is just a list of SOME of the signs of melanoma, but it could appear differently on a case to case basis. See your doctor with any suspicious signs.

Which factors can put me at a higher risk for melanoma?

  1. Sun / UV exposure – Skin cancers are mostly the result of UV exposure, that includes both sun exposure and UV exposure from tanning beds and other tanning devices.
  2. Family history – If you have a family history of skin cancer, visit your dermatologist for frequent skin checks. 
  3. Skin type – while skin cancers are diagnosed much more frequently in lighter skin types, it often proves more deadly in darker skin types as the signs of skin cancer often do not appear on dark skin types until the later metastatic stages.

How can I protect myself from melanoma?

  1. Make UV protection a priority! Apply a broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB physical sunscreen generously every day of the year. Re-apply every two hours as needed when exposed. If you are swimming or sweating, re-apply every 80 minutes. Be generous with your sunscreen applications.  It takes one shot glass of sunscreen to cover the average body appropriately.
  2. LIMIT your sun exposure time. Applying sunscreen is not meant to be a free ticket to all day exposure.
  3. Wear GOOD UV protective sunglasses! UV exposure has also been linked to cataracts and other eye conditions.
  4. Wear a wide-brimmed, UV protected sun hat and seek shade.
  5. Wear UV protective clothing.
  6. Avoid sun exposure between 11am-3pm.
  7. Do frequent self-checks and visit your dermatologist with any suspicious changes.

Help us improve community knowledge about the dangers of UV radiation and decrease the number of lives effected or lost to melanoma by sharing this post on your social media platforms and sharing this knowledge with your friends and family.

 

Roxanne,

Skincare & Laser Specialist for

G.D. Castillo, MD, FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Center

https://www.facebook.com/DrCastilloCosmeticPlasticSurgery

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply