by Michelle

What You Should Know About Melanoma, Skin Cancer, & Sun Exposure

December 18, 2015

Even if you are careful to wear sunscreen every time you head outdoors, you aren’t completely protected. Here are 8 important things to know about exposure to the sun and skin cancer:

What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates from the cells in your skin that make pigment.

Who gets melanoma?
All ages, including children, can get melanoma. It is the most common type of cancer in 25 to 29 year olds, and the second most common type in 15 to 29 year olds. All skin types can be affected.

Are indoor tanning beds safe?
Indoor tanning beds are incredibly dangerous and significantly increase your risk of melanoma. In addition to increasing your risk of deadly skin cancer, indoor tanning is associated with premature aging.

Does melanoma only grow in moles?
Melanoma can grow within an existing mole or in normal skin. Melanoma can even grow in areas not exposed to the sun!

Is a baseline tan healthy?
Tan skin is not healthy skin. It is your body’s response to ultraviolet injury. Your body is making more pigment to try to protect the DNA in your cells. This DNA damage causes skin cancer.

If I wear sunscreen, am I completely protected from the sun?
In other words, not really. When sunscreen is tested for effectiveness, A LARGE VOLUME of sunscreen is used. In general, people don’t put on nearly enough sunscreen to be effective. You should reapply at least every 2 hours when you are in sun and more frequently if you are sweating and in the water. Even if you are wearing sunscreen appropriately, you are still being exposed to the sun. Sun protective clothing and wide brimmed hats can also protect you from ultraviolet light exposure.

How do I perform a skin check?
Look everywhere! Don’t forget in between your toes and the bottoms of your feet. Most importantly, visit your dermatologist for a skin exam.

Where can I found out more information about skin cancer and protecting my skin?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) is a great resource. You can access additional information about skin cancer and how to perform a skin exam on the AAD website. You can also find a list of board certified dermatologists in your area.

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