Let’s talk about the importance of skin health. When it comes to skin cancer prevention, having a regular and thorough check-up is imperative. Why is this important? Because if it is caught early, skin cancer can be cured.
It is important to remember that you don’t have to have spent hours and hours in the sun to be at risk of skin cancer. Similarly, even if you’ve been careful as an adult, the damage is likely to have been done when you were a child so your improved habits does not mean you’re not at risk of developing skin cancer.
Regular checks are essential, and you can do that either with the help of a professional dermatologist or by yourself.
Most people who are diagnosed with skin cancer are between 50 and 80 years of age. However, this can happen with younger people too and the sooner you form the habit of checking your skin, the better.
Cancer prevention has always posed an important branch of an individual’s health, so once you start doing this regularly, you know you are on the right path and being educated is key.
How important is it to check your skin?
If you are still thinking about this and haven’t done one in a while, here are the reasons you should simply go for it:
- Early skin cancer detection – there is a higher rate of successful treatment if the cancer is caught early. Whether it is blemishes, moles, or spots, detecting some abnormalities earlier in the process can help the dermatologist diagnose and remove the skin cancer patch before it spreads. Some of the most common cancer growths on the body are called squamous and basal cell carcinomas, both easily detectable and treatable.
- Reduces the risk of other types of cancer – regular skin check-ups equal a lower rate of anyone being diagnosed with this disease. Melanoma can spread as fast as wildfire, and it is in your hands to do everything you can to prevent that from happening. By identifying it early, any potential cancer can be prevented from reaching other organs.
Once we have gone through some of the reasons why you should include regular examinations in your activities, let’s take a look at the 3 options.
- Go to your GP to get a referral to a dermatologist for a skin check.
- Go to a skin checking clinic. You don’t need a referral.
- The least desirable but possible option is to do the exam yourself. Keep reading to discover how to do it properly.
Self-checking and mole mapping – signs to look out for
The first thing we recommend for skin cancer prevention – check your skin for unusual activities. Look out for:
- Irregular edges – doing some mole mapping means taking a close look at each of your moles. Granted, it takes some time, but you can focus on the bigger ones only. If the edges have become ragged, blurry, notched up, and simply out of shape, it might indicate skin cancer. The mole can appear a little raised above the skin’s surface and feel rough to the touch.
- Asymmetrical – the healthy formation of a mole should be a symmetrical one. Consistency in appearance is a form of healthiness. So, if you are looking for a sign of cancerous skin, check for irregular shapes too. An asymmetrical mole should be checked immediately by a professional.
- Changing colour – if you notice that a mole has become darker or lighter, or any mark on the skin has changed colour, this is a change that a specialist needs to check to rule out skin cancer.
- Getting larger – once you start doing these self-checkups, you should do them regularly. It is typical for a cancerous mole to grow to about half a centimetre and will be about the size of a pencil eraser. However, in some cases, cancerous cells can be smaller.
Ideally, take measurements and photographs of your moles and monitor them for any changes each time you do a check.
While an unusual mole may be itchy or sore, this is not necessarily the case.
If you see anything unusual, it is vital to go to a dermatologist.
Sun protection and Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a wonderful vitamin the body constantly needs. One of the natural ways of getting it (without any supplements) is through a bit of sun. If you are a sun lover, consider the time you spend under the sun. Fresh air and being outdoors is good for our bodies in so many ways, including our mental health.
However, certain types of UV light can be dangerous if you expose your skin for too long. This is why proper sun protection is imperative. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin D and still protect yourself from the sun by:
- Wearing SPF of at least 30
- Avoiding direct sunlight between peak sun hours
- Reapplying sunscreen during the day
- Wearing light clothing and a hat
- Wearing a lip balm of SPF 15 or higher
Maintaining your health is important, and when it comes to skin cancer prevention, the essential step is to check and examine everything – regularly.