May is Melanoma Awareness Month! As an Esthetician, I want to take this opportunity to educate you about the importance of sun protection and early detection of melanoma. It is my wish by sharing this information I will encourage you to take action, you can prevent this deadly disease and keep your skin healthy and beautiful for years to come.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce pigment in the skin. It can develop anywhere on the body, even areas that do not get sun exposure, for example, soles of feet, palms of hands, and even under nails on your feet and hands! However, most melanomas are found on sun-exposed areas.
Melanoma is a very serious and potentially life-threatening disease, but it also is highly preventable. The primary cause of melanoma is exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun or the tanning bed. Indoor tanning can increase the risk of developing the two most common types of skin cancer—squamous cell carcinoma by 58%, and basal cell carcinoma by 24%. Using tanning beds before the age of 20 can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 47%, and the risk increases with each tanning session.
Did you know that melanoma can run in families, in fact, about one in every 10 patients diagnosed with melanoma has a family member with a history of the disease. I learned this when a family member was diagnosed with melanoma on the back. Thankfully the melanoma was caught EARLY and did not spread to the lymph nodes. I also was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma by my eye lid during my yearly skin check. This was a huge wake up call for me, I wanted to learn as much as I can about skin cancer prevention and spread the word.
Here are some tips for you to help prevent melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma:
1. Wear a broad-spectrum, mineral- based SPF of at least 30, reapply every two hours.
2. Wear protective clothing; long sleeve shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
3. Avoid tanning beds which are a major source of UV radiation.
4. Schedule to see a dermatologist for a full-body skin exam at least once a year.
5. Check your skin regularly for any changes or suspicious moles. If you do notice any changed, please see your dermatologist.
Again, early detection is key to treating melanoma or any skin cancers successfully!