May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a crucial time designated by health care providers and organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology to spotlight the importance of sun protection and early detection of skin cancer. It’s the most common cancer in American populations, but also one of the most preventable.

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we spotlight the crucial measures everyone can take to protect their skin from harmful UV rays, but it’s important to carry these practices throughout the year.

Below are valuable insights and practical tips to safeguard your skin health, not just this month but for a lifetime.

How to Support Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin Cancer Awareness Month is pivotal in educating the community about the risk factors and prevention methods for types of skin cancer like melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Plus, it’s a time filled with powerful stories from survivors. If you’ve been impacted by skin cancer, your experiences show us the real impact of cancer and inspire us to make healthier choices. You’ll often find local health clinics, community groups, and even some of your favorite stores joining in to help spread the message. They bust myths about tanning, break down what SPF numbers really mean, and show us that keeping our skin safe is easier than you might think.

We encourage you to take the initiative to educate yourself and participate in community efforts like fundraising for cancer research and spreading awareness through social media. Stay informed with the latest cancer facts, share your story using the hashtag #SkinCancerIsSerious and/or #ThisIsSkinCancer, and ensure regular interactions with your dermatologist to maintain healthy skin year-round.

Sun Safety tips

Protecting your skin from the sun might seem like a chore, but think of it as a daily habit, like brushing your teeth. Getting into the right routine can make all the difference in the world, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Here’s how you can keep your skin safe and healthy every day.

Sunscreen is Your Best Friend: Sun protection is your first line of defense against the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that guards against both UVA and UVB rays can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Start every day with a good layer of broad-spectrum sunscreen. It should have at least SPF 30, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. And yes, you need sunscreen even on cloudy days because UV rays don’t take a break.

Dress for the Occasion: Wear protective clothing when you’re out and about. Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats aren’t just stylish—they’re also your first line of defense against harmful UV rays. And don’t forget sunglasses! They protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them.

Seek Shade: The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so if you can, try to stay in the shade during these hours. Whether it’s under an umbrella, a tree, or a canopy, finding shade can reduce your exposure significantly.

How to Perform Regular Skin Checks

Keeping an eye on your skin can be one of the most straightforward and most effective ways to catch skin cancer early. Here’s a simple guide to help you become a pro at checking your skin:

Make It a Routine: Performing regular self-exams is essential for early detection of skin cancer. The ABCDE method (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving) is a simple guide to assessing unusual moles or skin changes, which could be warning signs of melanoma. Regular self-exams empower you to recognize any new or changing lesions that might require a professional evaluation by a dermatologist.

Follow a Pattern: Start at your head and work your way down. Make sure to check all areas including your scalp, the spaces between your fingers and toes, and even your soles. A systematic approach ensures you don’t miss anything.

Document Changes: If you notice any changes, take a picture and date it. This can be incredibly helpful for your dermatologist to track changes over time and make informed decisions.

Consult a Professional: If you spot anything concerning, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. It’s always better to be safe and get an expert opinion.

When to Visit Urgent Care for Sunburns

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, sunburns happen. While mild sunburns can often be treated at home, more severe cases may require a visit to urgent care. Here’s when you should consider seeking professional medical attention for sunburn:

Severe Pain and Swelling: If your sunburn is accompanied by severe pain or significant swelling, it’s a sign that the burn is deep and may need medical treatment.

Blistering Over a Large Area: Small blisters can be common with sunburn, but if large areas of your skin are blistering, or the blisters are beginning to merge, this increases the risk of infection and complications.

Signs of Infection: If you notice increasing redness, swelling, pus, or red streaks leading from the blister, these are signs of infection. Fever and chills are also symptoms that the infection may be spreading, necessitating immediate medical attention.

Headaches, Dizziness, or Nausea: These symptoms can indicate heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can accompany severe sunburns and require urgent treatment.

Young Children and Infants: Sunburn in young children and infants is more serious. If your child has sunburn, it’s best to seek medical advice, as their skin is more sensitive and the risks are higher.

Professional Skin Evaluations and Their Importance

While regular self-checks are crucial for early detection of skin changes, professional skin evaluations by a dermatologist bring an expert eye to your skin health regimen. Here’s why they are so important:

Expert Analysis: Dermatologists are trained to spot skin abnormalities that might not be obvious to the untrained eye. During an evaluation, they use specialized tools to look more closely at your skin, which can detect issues before they become serious.

Access to Dermoscopic Examination: Dermatologists use a tool called a dermatoscope, which provides a magnified and illuminated view of skin lesions. This allows for a more accurate assessment than what can be achieved with the naked eye alone.

Comprehensive Evaluation: A professional skin check isn’t just about looking at suspicious moles; it includes a full-body scan to assess every inch of your skin, ensuring that nothing is overlooked.

Personalized Advice: Your dermatologist can provide tailored advice based on your skin type, family history, and lifestyle. They can recommend specific preventative measures and treatments, adjusting them as your skin changes over time.

Early Intervention: Early detection is key in treating skin cancer successfully. Regular evaluations help catch skin cancer early, often leading to simpler and more effective treatments.

Visit a Dermatologist in Utah County Today

If you’re in Utah, consider setting up an appointment with a dermatologist at Premier Family Medical. Our team of experts is ready to provide you with a thorough skin evaluation and personalized care plans. Don’t wait—protect your skin and your health by scheduling an appointment today!