Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Thankfully, skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable when it is found early. At Apex Dermatology, our experts have cured over 50,000 skin cancers!
Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color. It can even appear on body parts that do not get much sun exposure, like inside the mouth, the bottoms of the feet, and the groin. While the best approach is to prevent skin cancer in the first place, regular skin examinations with a dermatologist can help identify and treat suspicious spots before they can become a danger to your health.
Dr. Lauren Karpinski, lead dermatologist at Apex Dermatology in Medina shares her expert advice on skin cancer prevention.
Sunscreen to Prevent Skin Cancer
Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day (yes, even in the winter!) is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer.
Dr. Karpinski says, “Sunscreen usage prevents the visible and microscopic changes that take place with aging, and daily usage can help reduce some of the damage that has already occurred. In fact, research has shown that daily sunscreen use can result in a significant reduction in the specific skin changes that can lead to precancerous actinic keratoses.”
So how much sunscreen should you be applying?
“Research shows that individuals do not apply sunscreen as thickly as they should. Most sunscreen users only apply 25-75% of that quantity. Applying only one-half the standard amount of an SPF 30 product will then reduce the protection level by half; so, it is as if you applied a sunscreen product of SPF 15 instead.”
She adds, “This is why cosmetic products like foundation that contain sunscreen are not sufficient on their own. The proper amount of sunscreen required to cover the skin of an adult is approximately two tablespoons or one full shot glass. This is also why applying a product of higher SPF will give you greater protection against burns, as areas where it may have been applied in too thin of a layer will still retain a high SPF level of protection.”
Annual Skin Exam
In addition to sun protection, you should see a dermatologist once a year for your annual exam.
“This is crucial for maintaining the health of your skin and ensuring you don’t have any life-threatening skin conditions like skin cancer.” Dr. Karpinski stresses.
And the best part? Most insurances cover your annual visit so it’s of little to no cost to you. In fact, many people come in for their skin checks near the end of the year when their insurance deductible has already been met for the year, helping them maximize their benefits.
Spot Checks to
In addition to yearly checks, you should always be on the lookout for suspicious spots.
“Skin cancer is very common and can look similar to acne pimples. Little red bumps that look a lot like pimples, but don’t go away, may actually turn out to be skin cancer,” advises Dr. Karpinski.