Though not as common as other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma is the most serious. When not detected and treated in the early stages, melanoma quickly spreads to other organs.
Rates of melanoma are on the rise in the United States, affecting nearly 200,000 people every year. Though you can’t completely prevent melanoma, there are measures you can to protect your skin and reduce your risk of developing the deadly skin cancer.
At Associated Skin Care Specialists, our board-certified dermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, including melanoma. We want you to know what you can do to protect your skin and possibly prevent melanoma.
Limit outdoor activities during peak sun hours
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that affects the melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells in your skin. Damage to the DNA in these cells triggers the cells to grow at a faster rate pace, creating a mass of cancerous cells.
Researchers believe the DNA damage in the cells may develop from a combination of factors, including genetics and the environment. However, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or a tanning bed may play a significant role in the damage that causes skin cancer.
The rays of the sun are the strongest between 10 a.m and 4 p.m. Limiting your time outdoors during these hours is one of the best things you can do to protect your skin and reduce your risk of melanoma.
Apply sunscreen daily
In addition to avoiding the sun during the middle of the day, we also recommend you apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher daily. If you’re spending a lot of time outside, you need to reapply every two hours.
Covering up with clothes also protects your skin and may prevent melanoma. This includes long-sleeve shirts and pants, as well as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection.
Take advantage of shady spots
Finding a shady spot not only helps you stay cool but also protects your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology says that if your shadow is shorter than you, you need to find some shade.
Skip the tanning beds
Tanning beds and lamps emit damaging UV rays and should be avoided. In addition to increasing your risk of skin cancer, tanning beds and lamps may also cause premature aging.
Instead, use tanning lotions or sprays to get that sun-kissed look.
Schedule monthly skin self-exams
Melanoma is serious, but treatable when found early. Regular skin self-exams may help you find abnormalities sooner rather than later.
We recommend a full head-to-toe examination to look for new skin growths or changes in moles or freckles. When evaluating your skin, we recommend you use the ABCDE rule when examining moles.
- Asymmetrical shape
- Border irregularities
- Change in color
- Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolving, or changing over time
If you have moles with any of these characteristics, it’s time to schedule a dermatology skin exam. We can evaluate your skin and take a biopsy of your growth and have our dermatopathology specialists provide an accurate diagnosis.
When caught early, our surgical experts remove the melanoma with a wide, local excision that removes the growth and some of the surrounding tissue.
To schedule your skin exam with one of our experienced dermatologists, call the office in Maple Grove, Fridley, Eden Prairie, or Coon Rapids, Minnesota or use the online booking tool.