May is Melanoma Awareness Month which allows us to take some time out of our busy day to take a good look at our skin for suspicious moles. Here is what you need to know.
There are different types of melanoma including:
- Cutaneous melanoma (occurs on the skin)
- Mucosal melanoma (occurs in the mouth, genitalia and sinuses/nasal passages)
- Ocular melanoma (within the eyes)
Since Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for people 25-29 years old, it is important to start skin checks early. It is also the second most common form of cancer for people 15-29 years old. So, what do you need to look for while checking out our skin? Glad you asked! Here is what you look for:
- A – asymmetry
- B - border
- C – color
- D – diameter
- E – evolution
Melanomas tend to be asymmetric, jagged borders, multiple colors or black in color, bigger than a pencil eraser or 6 mm and change with time.
Quick tips for sun safety:
- Apply broad spectrum SPF 30 (at least) sunscreen 15 minutes before UV exposure.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and UV protective clothing.
- Seek shade between 10 am and 2 pm or use an umbrella or sunshade when possible.
- Avoid tanning, tanning beds and sunburns.
Set up an appointment annually with your eye doctor and every 6 months with your dentist. It is also a good idea to have your hairdresser check your scalp during hair appointments. All of these providers are trained in detecting suspicious moles.
You should be performing at home skin checks once monthly and examining the skin has gotten easier than ever. Just ask your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to “open skin check” for step-by-step instructions. If you see a mole that you are worried about during your at-home skin check, call and set up an appointment with a dermatology provider.
- Gina Bird, MPAS, PA-C