May is Skin Cancer (Melanoma) Awareness month and we wanted to share some tips on how to prevent and detect skin cancer early. The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone practice a head-to-toe self-examination every month, so they can find new or changing skin lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. Skin cancer that is found and removed early is almost always curable. That is why finding it early is so important.

When checking yourself, take note of any lesions that itch, bleed, or don’t seem to heal. Another helpful way to detect skin cancer is to remember your ABC’s- or the ABCDE’s of melanoma:

Asymmetry– If you draw a line through the mole and the two halves do not match, it could be cancerous.

Border– The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

Color– Having a variety of colors is another warning sign. A number of different shades of brown, tan, or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, blue, or some other color.

Diameter– Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil, which is ¼ inch or 6mm.) However, they can sometimes be smaller when first detected.

Evolving– Any change – in size, shape, color, elevation, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting – points to danger.  Bottom line – if you question any mole, go see your doctor immediately.

There are simple ways to prevent skin cancer. Since its inception, the Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as the most important part of a complete skin protection regimen. You should apply 1 ounce to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside to be most effective. It is recommended that you reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. Sunscreen alone is not enough, however. When you are outdoors, seek the shade – especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, when UV light is the strongest. Do not burn. When your skin burns, it is obviously telling you that you’ve exposed yourself to harmful sun rays. Another way to protect yourself is to cover up. Clothing, hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses all help. Finally, to make sure you are protected, visit your doctor for a professional skin exam.

Come into St. Louis Skin Solutions this month for your full-body skin exam and get a 20% discount on sunscreen (now through June 15th) to keep your skin looking beautiful and protected! Schedule your appointment by calling 314.543.4015 today!