Posts for tag: Skin Cancer
Here are some ways to protect yourself against skin cancer.
Skin cancer can happen to anyone. While you may assume that it only happens to sunbathers or tanning-bed enthusiasts, the fact is, is that even just being in the sun’s rays for a bit every day can still make you prone to skin cancer. Of course, along with early detection from our Honolulu, HI, dermatologists Dr. Kevin Dawson, Dr. Douglas Chun, Dr. Erin Fuller, and Dr. Sarah Grekin, there are steps you can take right this moment to help protect your skin.
How do you prevent skin cancer?
While you may not be able to 100-percent protect yourself against skin cancer, you can greatly reduce your risk by:
Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you applied sunscreen? If you’re like most Americans, then you probably don’t. Only about 11 percent of Americans wear sunscreen daily and about 46 percent never wear sunscreen. Skin cancer can happen to anyone so you must be protecting your face and body by applying sunscreen every day (about 30 minutes before going outside). Also, remember to reapply every two hours.
Avoiding the Hottest Hours of the Day
If you want to go on your morning run or enjoy some time outdoors (after all, it is important to soak up some vitamin D) you may want to consider doing it before 10 am or after 4 pm, as that 10 am-4 pm window is when the Hawaiian sun’s rays are at their most powerful, which can also increase your risk for sun damage.
Seeking Shade and Wearing the Right Clothes
If you do have to go outdoors, especially during the sun’s peak hours of 10 am-4 pm, you must seek shade whenever possible. You should also wear clothes that cover your skin and are made from light colors and tightly woven fabrics. Remember that the sun’s rays can penetrate through transparent or knitted clothes.
Knowing How to Shop for Sunscreen
Most people don’t even know if they have a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which is important since it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Getting Regular Skin Cancer Screenings
Even if you don’t think you’re at risk for skin cancer, it’s still important to visit our dermatologists here at our Honolulu, HI, practice once a year for a skin cancer screening. We can often catch subtle changes in the color, size, shape, or look of a mole to detect cancer early when it’s often treatable.
Do you need to schedule a skin cancer screening with our Honolulu, HI, dermatologists? Concerned about a new or changing mole? If so, call Dawson Dermatology today at (808) 599-3780 to book an appointment with Dr. Kevin Dawson, Dr. Douglas Chun, Dr. Erin Fuller, or Dr. Sarah Grekin.
What should I expect from a skin cancer screening?
There is nothing uncomfortable, painful, or invasive about a skin cancer screening. This can be a relief to know and may even make someone more likely to come in for the screening they need. A skin cancer screening involves a simple, non-invasive visual examination that is performed by a qualified dermatologist. Your skin doctor will examine all growths, moles, and birthmarks to check for any changes in shape, color, size, or texture that could be warning signs of cancer.
Just as with any health screening, a skin cancer screening can help your dermatologist detect skin cancer during the very early stages when it’s highly treatable. If your dermatologist does detect a suspicious growth, they may recommend a biopsy. A biopsy simply means that your dermatologist will remove a small amount of tissue from the area to test for cancer cells.
Who should get a skin cancer screening?
Everyone can benefit from a skin cancer screening; however, certain risk factors can increase your odds of developing skin cancer over your lifetime. It’s important to know your risk level so you can talk with your dermatologist about how often you should come in for screenings. Those at increased risk may need to come in more than once a year. These risk factors include,
- Being fair-skinned
- Having blonde or red hair
- Light eyes
- Skin that burns or freckles easily
- A history of sunburns
- Family history of skin cancer
- Extensive sun exposure (e.g. working outdoors)
Not all organs are internal. The skin is the largest and contains three layers: the epidermis (outer), dermis (middle), and hypodermis (deepest). When cancer cells affect any of these areas, the situation can potentially be life-threatening. Several factors can raise an individual's risk of developing skin cancer. But the condition is preventable. Minimizing your exposure begins with a visit to the dermatologist. At Dawson Dermatology, you can expect a quick and efficient head-to-toe examination from Dr. Kevin L. Dawson, Dr. Douglas Chun, or Dr. Sarah J. Grekin performed in our Honolulu, HI, office to review family medical history and look for suspicious moles that may need additional testing.
Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer
Skin cancer prevention starts with protection. UV rays that emit from the sun, as well as tanning beds, are harmful, so it's best to avoid both whenever possible. When you're outside, be sure to apply 30-SPF sunscreen and lip balm year-round, wear additional clothing like a brimmed hat and stay in the shade - especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when rays are the strongest. It also helps to wear sunglasses, avoid reflective surfaces, and choose cosmetic products that offer sun protection.
Signs and Symptoms to Observe
Different types of skin cancer have distinct traits. We encourage you to visit our Honolulu, HI, office at the first sign of something unusual. If you're unsure of what to look for when performing a physical exam at-home, our dermatologist can teach you how to spot skin damage. At Dawson Dermatology, we always remind our patients to remember their "ABCDE's." This acronym stands for asymmetrical, border, colorful, diameter, and evolving. When a mole or freckle doesn't look like the rest, has an irregular border, color changes, or becomes bigger than a pencil eraser, it may be cause for concern and require extra attention.
If you observe new moles, lesions, or freckles with an "ugly duckling" appearance, or find yourself itching or bleeding, schedule a consultation with our dermatologist. We have a team of board-certified professionals who are dedicated to catching signs and symptoms early when they are most treatable. For more information about skin cancer, other conditions we treat, and services provided at Dawson Dermatology, visit our website. Please call (808) 599-3780 for appointment scheduling with Dr. Kevin L. Dawson, Dr. Douglas Chun, or Dr. Sarah J. Grekin in our Honolulu, HI, office.
During the much longed-for summer months, people work on their tans. While enjoying a richer skin tone now, tanners take huge risks for premature aging and skin cancer.
Sun and artificial tanning
It's what we use to get those tans. But, did you know that when you tan, you actually burn the top layer (epidermis) of your skin and damage your DNA, too?
According to Live Science, DNA damage mutates normal skin cells into cancer cells. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common kinds of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer as it easily metastasizes to major body organs. About one-third of melanoma cases in the US kill their sufferers annually, says The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Unfortunately, artificial tanning is just as dangerous as sitting in the sun. Intermittent sun exposure or occasional tanning in the sun or tanning beds are harmful, too. Damage to the skin is cumulative, and both kinds of ultraviolet radiation (there are UV-A and UV-B rays) breakdown your skin's DNA over time. Further, UV-B harms your skin's natural elasticity normally provided by a protein called collagen.
Don't tan: protect
To protect your skin, avoid sunburns, intentional tanning and excessive day to day sun exposure with these strategies from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):
- Cover up any exposed skin (face, arms, legs, ears) with a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeves and other sun-protective clothing.
- Use sunscreen lotion--SPF 30 or higher--on all exposed skin, and re-apply every two hours or whenever you sweat it off or swim.
- Stay indoors or in the shade from 10 am to 2 pm.
Also, all adults, particularly those 40 or older, should see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. Do a careful self-exam once a month at home, looking for changes in the color, size, and shape of existing spots or moles. Report changes to your skin doctor as well as any sore which does not heal in a week or so.
It's your skin
Don't sacrifice its health for a little fashionable color. Tanning really is bad for you. Find healthy ways to enjoy the summer months and that wonderful sun. Your skin and your overall health will be better for your efforts.
With the warmer months just around the corner you may be getting ready to plan some fun in the sun. The summertime always finds children spending hours outside playing, as well as beach-filled family vacations, backyard barbeques, and more days just spent soaking up some much-needed vitamin D.
While it can certainly be great for our emotional and mental well-being to go outside, it’s also important that we are protecting our skin against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. These are some habits to follow all year long to protect against skin cancer,
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean that your skin isn’t being exposed to the harmful UVA and UVB rays. The sun’s rays have the ability to penetrate through clouds. So it’s important that you generously apply sunscreen to the body and face about 30 minutes before going outside.
Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Everyone should use sunscreen, even infants. Just one sunburn during your lifetime can greatly increase your risk for developing skin cancer, so always remember to lather up!
Reapply Sunscreen Often
If you are planning to be outdoors for a few hours you’ll want to bring your sunscreen with you. After all, one application won’t be enough to protect you all day long. A good rule of the thumb to follow is, reapply sunscreen every two hours. Of course, you’ll also want to apply sunscreen even sooner if you’ve just spent time swimming or if you’ve been sweating a lot (e.g. running a race or playing outdoor sports).
Seek Shade During the Day
While feeling the warm rays of the sun on your shoulders can certainly feel nice, the sun’s rays are at their most powerful and most dangerous during the hours of 10am-4pm. If you plan to be outdoors during these times it’s best to seek shady spots. This means enjoying lunch outside while under a wide awning or sitting on the beach under an umbrella. Even these simple measures can reduce your risk for skin cancer.
See a Dermatologist
Regardless of whether you are fair skinned, have a family history of skin cancer or you don’t have any risk factors, it’s important that everyone visit their dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. This physical examination will allow our skin doctor to be able to examine every growth and mole from head to toe to look for any early signs of cancer. These screenings can help us catch skin cancer early on when it’s treatable.
Noticing changes in one of your moles? Need to schedule your next annual skin cancer screening? If so, a dermatologist will be able to provide you with the proper care you need to prevent, diagnose and treat both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.