For many of us, after the outdoor joys of summer, it’s back to work and back to school. Just possibly, you and your children spent a few too many hours in the sun without sufficient protection, and your skin may have suffered for it.
Summer’s end is a perfect time for you and your family to take stock of your skin health with a visit to your physician. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone — especially those over the age of 45 — have a full-body skin examination annually, giving you a fresh start in rededicating yourself to year-round skin cancer prevention.
At your appointment, be sure to show your doctor any changes to your skin (such as new or growing lesions) that you’ve noticed since your last visit; they could be the first signs of skin cancer. Also voice any concerns you have. If you have sustained sun-induced skin damage, which may appear as wrinkles, sagging skin, or brown spots, your physician may be able to reverse some of it. Light-based therapies, like lasers and photodynamic therapy, can undo some signs of skin aging, giving your skin a more youthful look. These procedures also can eliminate precancerous cells, reducing your chances of developing skin cancer.
Along with the annual total-body exam, the Foundation advises you to check yourself head-to-toe once a month to monitor your skin even more closely. Studies show that patients are usually the first ones to discover suspicious lesions, and the earlier you catch a skin cancer, the easier it is to treat. A monthly self-exam and a yearly professional exam are the best ways to guarantee that you detect potential skin cancers promptly, when they have caused the least damage and are almost always curable. If you don’t know how to perform a skin self-exam, ask your doctor for guidance. View Detailed, Illustrated Instructions for Self Exams