How to keep your skin looking good

How to keep your skin looking good

With spring’s arrival and summer just around the corner the sunshine is as enticing as ever. But always be aware that those increased hours in the sunlight also deliver increased risk for skin cancer.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and our skin care professionals at Marshall Dermatology encourage everyone to make sure their skin is “Looking Good in 2016” by practicing skin cancer prevention and performing regular skin self-exams.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting one in five Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In fact, it is estimated that more than 8,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and one person dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every hour. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of skin cancer and detect it in its earliest stages.

Here are some of my favorite sun-safety tips to make sure your skin is “looking good:”

  • Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Use sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin. Apply at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
  • Know your skin’s condition. Asking yourself these skin protection and skin cancer prevention questions may be a life-saving decision.
    • When was the last time I took a good look at my skin?
    • Has it been a while since my doctor or I have given it more than a cursory glance?
    • What about those hard-to-see areas, such as my back or the top of my head?

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Skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early, so watch for new or changing spots on your skin and make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist if you see anything suspicious. To reduce your risk of skin cancer and keep your skin looking good, make sure to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and stay out of indoor tanning beds.

This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, make a commitment to skin cancer prevention and detection.

  • Perform regular skin self-exams. Look for spots that are different from the others, and watch for anything changing, itching or bleeding. Make sure to check your entire body, and ask someone you trust to help you examine hard-to-see areas like your back.
  • Look for the ABCDEs of melanoma. Examine your moles for the following characteristics:
    • Asymmetry – one half doesn’t match the other
    • Border irregularity – the edges are ragged, notched or blurred
    • Color that varies from one area to another
    • Diameter – melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, though they can be smaller
    • Evolving – look for changes in size, shape or color

Don’t hesitate to contact our team at Marshall Dermatology at 304-529-0900 to discuss any suspicious spots on your skin, learn how to perform a skin self-exam or for more skin cancer prevention and detection tips. We’re here to help, and we want you to safely enjoy the outdoors and the sunny, warm weather.

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Charles Yarbrough, MD

Dr. Yarbrough is a board-certified dermatologist with Marshall Dermatology, a department of Marshall Health, and professor and chair of the dermatology department at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Practicing for more than 40 years, he specializes in all forms of skin cancer, acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, laser treatments, general dermatology.

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