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I'm At Risk for Skin Cancer — What Should I Do?

I'm At Risk for Skin Cancer — What Should I Do?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. About 20% of all adults develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Some people have an elevated risk, and if you’re in that group, you need to take extra precautions. 

At Seacoast Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologists offer expert treatment for skin cancer, but we also focus on prevention. 

You’re at elevated risk if you:

Just because you’re at risk for skin cancer doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Your current lifestyle choices are factors in determining your risk now. 

Here are five common strategies to prevent skin cancer. 

Stay out of the sun and avoid UV rays

The majority of skin cancers are a result of too much time in the sun. If you love the beach, pool, or being on the water in a boat, it’s time to change your habits. You can still enjoy these activities, but switch the time of day. 

Avoid the sun’s rays from 10 am to 4 pm. Start a new routine when you’re at the beach, pool, or in a boat. Play games indoors or go to the movies when the sun is at its height. Enjoy morning and late afternoons outside instead. 

It goes without saying that if you’re at risk for skin cancer, you should avoid tanning beds. They expose you to high levels of UVA and UVB rays. 

Invest in sun-protective clothing 

You may not realize you can get a sunburn while wearing a cotton T-shirt because UV rays penetrate it. 

Invest in clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). They now come in many styles, so you don’t have to give up fashion. Over time, you can switch out your wardrobe so most of your clothing offers protection. 

Ball caps don’t protect your ears, neck, and much of your face. Change to a wide-brimmed hat with SPF sun protection. Always select sunglasses with total UVA and UVB protection. 

Perform regular self-checks for skin cancer

If you know you’re at elevated risk for skin cancer, be vigilant about performing a self-check once a month. Half of melanomas are discovered through a self-check. 

Get a significant other to examine your scalp and your back. Don’t forget the soles of your feet and between your toes. Look for any change in moles, a growth or uneven, scaly patch on your skin, or an open sore that won’t heal. 

Keep regularly scheduled skin checks with your dermatologist 

While half of melanomas are discovered by patients, half are not. Melanomas are aggressive and can spread to your body’s organs, making some cases incurable. 

Your dermatologist is the medical professional who can diagnose melanoma in an early stage when it can be cured, as well as diagnose and treat basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. 

Use sunscreen every day 

Apply a high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF factor every day when you leave the house, even in the winter. If you have to be in the sun for a protracted time, choose sunscreen with an SPF on the high end and wear appropriate clothing. Reapply sunscreen every two hours. 

Taking these steps helps lower your risk of skin cancer. Call us at Seacoast Dermatology today to request an appointment. Our offices are in Exeter, Portsmouth, and Dover, New Hampshire.

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