There are different skin cancers, but melanoma is the most serious form. This type occurs in the cells that make melanin, which is the pigment responsible for giving your skin its color. Less often, you can develop melanoma in your eyes, and, even more rarely, inside your body, such as within the throat.
While the exact cause isn’t known, more than 90% of melanoma cases in the United States stem from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. These damaging rays come from the sun or tanning lamps, which also means there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, specializes in the procedure used to treat melanoma, which is known as Mohs surgery. This tissue-preserving treatment removes cancerous tissue one layer at a time, leaving as much healthy skin behind as possible. Dr. deVilleneuve recommends taking these steps to protect yourself from melanoma moving forward.
First and foremost, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is understand your personal risks of developing melanoma.
Factors that increase your chances of developing skin cancer include:
When you have a higher risk of developing melanoma, you should be even more vigilant with the next steps to protect your skin and overall health.
Basking in the sun or refreshing your tan on a tanning bed may sound tempting. However, avoiding these behaviors is the best way to cut your risk of developing melanoma.
Whenever possible, try to limit your sun exposure during peak hours of the day, which are typically 10am-4pm. And don’t let gray skies or winter weather fool you. Your skin absorbs UV energy all year long, even on overcast days.
Heading outdoors? Don’t forget your sunscreen! Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 30. For the best results, apply sunscreen liberally and often, especially if you’re sweating or swimming.
And remember, since your skin absorbs UV energy despite the weather, slather on your sunscreen year-round, even under cloudy skies.
Shade and sunscreen aren’t the only ways to protect your skin. Cover up with the right clothing and accessories. Dr. deVilleneuve suggests looking for dark, tightly woven garments that cover your arms and legs or products designed with UV-blocking capabilities for maximum protection.
Don’t forget to complete your ensemble with sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat. These items can help protect the delicate skin on your face and around your eyes from damaging sun exposure.
Even when you take steps to protect your skin from the sun, it’s essential to check it regularly for any changes. These can include new moles, changes to existing moles, or other growths.
Dr. deVilleneuve recommends checking your skin yourself often, so you can spot changes as soon as possible. He also recommends scheduling regular skin checks with a dermatologist. It’s usually easier to treat a problem the sooner it’s discovered. Plus, early detection can even help address skin changes before they turn into cancer.
Do you have questions about melanoma or skin cancer treatment? We can help. To learn more,
call 972-947-2264 or book an appointment online today.