As a dermatologist, I’ve seen the good and the bad when it comes to skin conditions among my Joliet, and Lombard-area patients. But the truth is, nothing compares to the physical and emotional toll of skin cancer, the most common form of the disease in the U.S. That’s right: The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 1 in 5 Americans will develop it at some point during their lives.
If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may be familiar with #SkinTip, but just in case you’ve missed our new series, here are 4 of the unbelievably simple tips we’ve shared for healthy, beautiful, and above all, cancer-free skin:
Skin Tip #1:
Have a souvenir shot glass that’s collecting dust? Well now you have a use for it! No, we’re not advocating college-style parties, but we are definitely advocating for SPF, and applying the right amount of it. Because it is very likely you aren’t applying enough sunscreen (most people don’t), make it your goal to slather on about a shot glass worth of water-resistant, broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of 30 or higher. Depending on the size of your body, you may need a little more or less, but there’s truly no such thing as too much. Be sure to cover skin completely and massage in 15 minutes before heading out for the day.
Skin Tip #2:
Unfortunately, applying sunscreen is not a “one and done” kind of thing. A good rule of thumb: Reapply SPF every 2 hours, especially if you are outside. When swimming or sweating, be even more consistent with reapplication. Don’t forget to protect your lips, ears, and scalp, too ― these areas are commonly forgotten. My favorite way to get extra, extra protection? Wearing a wide brimmed hat!
Skin Tip #3:
Self-examination is crucial. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early! Make it a habit to check your skin for any changes, itching, or bleeding once a month. I’ve heard some of my patients have been tracking any suspicious spots by taking photos on their smartphones — smart, indeed! Can’t quite see everywhere you need to? That’s what friends or significant others are for. If you spot anything suspicious, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist ASAP.
Skin Tip #4:
If you do, in fact, notice a change in your skin, scheduling an exam right away is essential. Even if you don’t notice any skin irregularities, we recommend scheduling a professional exam annually to be safe. Most patients find it helpful to have a full-body exam anyway to determine what healthy spots, freckles, and moles look like, versus ones that should be of concern. After this professional exam, your self-exams shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes.
After many years of treating skin cancer patients, I’ve developed a passion for prevention. In fact, the most important goal I have for patients, friends, family — anyone walking down the street, really — is to incorporate prevention and sun-safe habits into their daily lives. Why? Because prevention is everything.
If you have questions or would like to schedule your annual skin exam, please contact us today. Have your own #SkinTips? Leave them in a comment below!