Skin cancer is a serious disease that affects thousands of people each year. According to statistics, about 76,000 people were diagnosed with skin cancer in 2014. Unfortunately, about 9,000 passed away from the disease. If you spend time in the sun, you need to do what you can to reduce your chances of developing the disease. This is particularly important if your family has a history of cancer. If you want to protect yourself from the ravages of skin cancer, you need to take a pro-active approach to your health. These three steps will help you protect your skin, and your health.
Give Yourself Monthly Self-Exams
When it comes to protecting yourself against skin cancer, you need to keep track of your own skin. That means you need to know every inch of what your body looks like. The best way to do that is with monthly self-exams.
Map It Out
Skin cancer doesn't always start out quickly. Most of the time, it starts out slowly, with minor changes in small moles. To catch skin cancer in its early stages, you need to know where your moles are and what they look like. The first time you look at your body, write down where you find each mole. You should also write down what each mole looks like, including the color.
After you document where each mole is, and what it looks like, you'll want to watch them each month. If you see changes, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a thorough exam.
See Your Doctor Every Year
In addition to your monthly self-exams, you should also schedule annual exams with your dermatologist. Those annual exams are a good way for your doctor to monitor changes in your skin, including moles. Full-body exams can provide early diagnosis of skin cancer, which can improve your chances of experiencing successful treatment. While mapping your body through monthly self-exams can help you identify changes in moles you can identify, full-body exams by a licensed doctor can identify problems that you won't recognize, which potentially means starting skin cancer treatments earlier on.
Don't be Fooled by Tanning Beds
If you like having a healthy glow but you're worried about the dangers associated with laying out in the sun, you might have resorted to tanning beds. Unfortunately, those tanning beds can be just as hazardous to your skin. Studies show that beginning tanning bed use before the age of 30, increases your risk of developing cutaneous melanoma by about 75 percent. If you want to give yourself a healthy glow without the danger, use a self-tanning lotion instead.