TAMPA, Fla. — May marks Skin Cancer Awareness Month and dermatologists say people should be doing self-skin examines about every month or so because prevention and early detection are key.
Here are the ABCDE’s of skin cancer you should watch out for when checking your skin:
- A is for Asymmetry: If you were to cut your mole in half, it should be just about equal parts
- B is for Border: The border of your mole should be round, abnormal moles will have jagged borders
- C is for Color: Your mole should be one shade, when it has different shades or an absence of color, that’s not a good sign
- D is for Diameter: Generally, a mole should be around the diameter of a pencil eraser, if it’s larger than that it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a doctor
- E is for Evolution: Your mole shouldn’t change over time, rapid changes are a red flag
“If you are worried or concerned that this is changing, the sooner you go to see your dermatologist, the better we can help,” said Dr. Maria Hicks, Board Certified Dermatologist.
Doctors say you should also check for any new moles, especially after the age of 40.
Experts tell us the places people forget to check for moles are their scalp, eyelids, and inside of their eyes.
You can develop melanoma inside of your eyes so it’s important to get your yearly eye exam.
Another important area to watch for is your feet.
“Look at your feet between the toes, the soles, just because there are moles there that are very important to look if there are any changes,” said Hicks.
Dermatologists recommend everyone wear sunscreen year-round, but especially as we head into the summer months.
To protect your skin:
- Wear sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
- Avoid the sun from around 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Wear wide brim hats for shade
“Dress for the sun. I know it’s hot but there are long sleeves, SPF shirts that are going to keep you cool and they’re going to protect you from the sun,” said Hicks.
She says a common area people forget to protect is their chest.
“Make sure you protect those areas of the skin that are not protected by clothing… the top of your hands is very important as well we probably neglect that on a regular basis but when you’re driving the hands are always exposed,” said Hicks.
Dermatologists say everyone, regardless of skin color, should protect themselves from the sun. There’s a misconception that people of color don’t need protection.
“Of course the darker your skin you’re going to be more protected but it doesn’t make you immune to it… Skin type 1 to 6, meaning the lighter and the darker skin color, all of us we have to protect. No one is exempt,” said Hicks.
Doctors recommend everyone get their skin checked once a year.