May is skin cancer awareness month. In addition to periodic examinations by your dermatologist, monthly self skin exams can also pick up early signs of skin cancer. Our patient’s often comment that they have difficulty recognizing the particular features of skin cancer (see www.skincancer.org for photos and descriptions of melanoma and the more common and generally less serious non-melanoma skin cancers.)
Here are a few simple tips:
- If a skin lesion is new or changing, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist for evaluation.
- Skin lesion(s) that appears significantly different from your other skin lesions should be evaluated by your dermatologist. This is commonly referred to as the “ugly duckling sign” or “funny looking mole sign.”
- Any skin lesion with bleeding, crusting, scaling, or irritation that doesn’t heal within a couple of weeks should be evaluated by your dermatologist.
We also recommend that you protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation by using sunscreen (more on this next month), seeking shade whenever possible, minimizing the hours spent in the sun (especially between 10 am and 4 pm), wearing sun-protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses.