Skin Cancer Prevention: Why You Should Check Your Moles Now
Hello, sunshine! Now that spring is finally here, we’re sure that you’re ready to throw all of your thick sweaters and extra blankets back into the closet where they belong. But before you break out your tank tops and sleeveless dresses, make sure you’re up-to-date on your skin’s health.
Knowing the current state of your skin’s health is important before you find yourself outdoors all spring and summer. Currently, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer, is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Avoiding too much UV light isn’t easy, though—sunlight naturally emits a couple of UV light variations. That’s why wearing sunscreen, limiting sunlight exposure, and keeping an eye on your moles are important factors in preventing skin cancer.
Anytime you’re outside, it’s a good idea to wear a sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF on any part of your skin that’s exposed. Most daily moisturizers contain between 15-30SPF, so make sure to read labels and find a brand that suits your needs and keeps your skin safe.
Now is a great time to perform a self-check for moles! If you start your spring off knowing exactly what to watch for, there’s a better chance that you’ll catch any abnormalities before they develop into a more serious problem. From the American Academy of Dermatology, here are the best tips for monitoring moles (your “ABCD’s”):
A – Asymmetry:
Does one part of your mole look very different from the other? Your mole’s coloration and thickness should not be drastically different from one side to the other.
B – Border:
Does your mole in question have a lumpy, uneven border? What if it looks lighter and more poorly defined than the rest of the mole? These border issues may signal a diseased mole and need to be checked by a dermatologist.
C – Color:
Look at your moles—do you have any that are composed of a few different colors? Moles that are not uniformly colored should be checked out. Moles most commonly appear in shades of tan, brown, and black and have been known to show up red, white, or blue too.
D – Diameter:
The AAD recommends that every mole on your body not exceed 6mm (the width of a pencil’s eraser). Melanomas are most commonly larger than 6mm, so please consult a professional if your mole in question is on the larger side.
Have questions about moles and sun safety? Check out the AAD website for comprehensive information or make an appointment with a dermatologist to get a skin check-up.
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