Melanoma Awareness: Staying Safe in the Sun
Skin care advice from the medical aestheticians at UW Health Transformations Jeune Skin Care:
Each year, approximately 76,000 new cases of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, are diagnosed. The incidence has increased 15 times in the last 40 years. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
During May - Melanoma Awareness Month - as well as year-round, we would like to take the opportunity to recommend the following prevention guidelines:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm, when the sun is strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the "shadow rule." If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.
- Do not burn. A person's risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she had had 5 or more sunburns at any point in life. Severe burns not only significantly increase your chances of developing skin cancer, but can make you ill. For severe burns, see your doctor.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. UV radiation from tanning machines is known to cause cancer in humans. Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors. Tanning bed users are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. The more time a person has spent tanning indoors, the higher the risk.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven and bright- or dark-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense. The more skin you cover, the better, so choose long sleeves and long pants whenever possible.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Mention this article and receive 15% off any sunscreen at UW Health Transformations in the month of May 2016!
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. One 6-ounce bottle of sunscreen should provide 2 full days of sun protection for prolonged outdoor activity. Mention this article and receive 15% off any sunscreen at UW Health Transformations in the month of May 2016!
- Keep newborns out of the sun, since their skin is extremely vulnerable. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation- just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams shouldn't replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately. To find out more about how to perform self-examination and spot a skin cancer, visit www.skincancer.org/selfexamination.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
The ABCDE Signs of Skin Cancer
Throughout the year, you should examine your skin once a month. Take note of any new growths or moles and any existing growths that begin to grow or change significantly. Skin lesions that itch, bleed or don't heal are also alarm signals.
Look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma - and if you see one or more, make an appointment with your physician.
A benign (non-cancerous) mole is symmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle, the two sides will match. If you can draw a line through a mole and the two sides do not match, it is asymmetrical and could be a warning sign for melanoma.
A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
Most benign moles are all one color - often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.
Benign (non-cancerous) moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant (cancerous) ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (1/4 inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
Common benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change - in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom, such as bleeding, itching or crusting - points to danger.
Information source: Skin Cancer Foundation
Mention this article and receive 15% off any sunscreen at UW Health Transformations in the month of May 2016!
For more information on sunscreens, please schedule a consultation with one of our medical aestheticians at UW Health Transformations: Call (608) 836-9990 or (866) 447-9990 (toll-free). You may also request a consultation online: