Recognizing skin cancer symptoms leads to early treatment with your Newport Beach dermatologist
In sun-drenched areas like Southern California, skin cancer is something you hear about quite often. We are advised to protect our skin from the sun even on cloudy days because skin cancer is a condition that can have drastic and lasting effects on quality of life. Your dermatologist is happy to share her knowledge of skin cancer with you so that you may avoid it through proactive steps.
Recognition of skin cancer symptoms is something we should all learn. However, one of the first things we encourage our Newport Beach patients to do is protect their skin from harmful UV rays. Avoiding exposure is one of the best ways to prevent damage that can lead to cancerous lesions, and is not difficult, even on the sunny California Coast.
Sun protection is vital for anyone who wants to preserve healthy, beautiful skin. We can protect our largest organ by enjoying the outdoors during non-peak hours, when rays from the sun are less intense. As much as possible, exposure between the hours of 10am and 2pm should be avoided. Starting the day with an application of broad-spectrum sunscreen is an important part of sun protection throughout the year. Car windows are not an efficient defense against damage. In addition, sunless tanning in a tanning bed causes as much damage, if not more, than tanning on the beach.
An additional practice recommended for skin cancer prevention is home screening. The more familiar we are with our own skin, the better we can determine when we are in need of professional assistance. Self-examinations should be performed on a monthly basis, followed by annual professional skin cancer screenings with your dermatologist.
Performing the self-examination
When you first begin to examine your skin at home, you will spend a fair amount of time in front of the mirror. This is because you are just getting to know the various marks on the different parts of your body. “Body mapping” can expedite the process:
- Examine the face, neck, and head, paying close attention to the lips, the nose, and the ears. The scalp may be checked with the help of a friend. Using a blow dryer or a comb, separate the hair so skin can be easily visualized.
- Examine the fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms.
- Move up the arm to examine the elbow area, the shoulders, and the underarms.
- Examine the entire torso in the mirror, including beneath any skin folds.
- Check the front of legs, tops of feet, and between the toes. Remember to examine the soles of your feet.
- Use two mirrors to view the reflection of your back, buttocks, and backs of legs.
In self-examinations, you are looking for the same symptoms your dermatologist identifies in comprehensive skin cancer screenings. These include:
- Any new growths, including moles
- Growth in a mole or lesion
- Changes of a growth’s color, size, or shape
- Bleeding or itching in a mole or lesion
- A persistent or recurring sore
- Multi-colored growths
- Imbalance or asymmetry in a mole, imagining a line across the center of a mole, each side should be the same.
A proactive approach to skin cancer can save you from stress and extensive damage. Contact the office of Dr. Arta Farshidi to schedule your skin cancer screening.
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