Make skin screenings part of your routine

The skin is the largest organ of the body, covering and protecting internal tissue. It also protects the body against germs; prevents the loss of too much water and other fluids; and sends messages to the brain about heat, cold, touch and pain.

There are two groups of skin cancers known as melanomas and non-melanomas. The non-melanoma group includes the basal cell and squamous cell cancers and are by far the most common type of skin cancers. Because the non-melanoma skin cancers rarely spread elsewhere in the body, they are less worrisome than melanoma. Melanoma is less common than the other skin cancers, and while it is almost always curable in early stages, it can spread to other parts of the body and is far more serious than non-melanoma skin cancers.

Check your skin for spots

Monthly self assessments can help you track changes in skin growths or new spots. And a comprehensive skin care assessment every year with your healthcare provider can help detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable.

Know the ABCDEs of spot checking:

 Safe sunning is elementary

After a long winter we all want to have fun in the summer sun. But its rays aren’t exactly healthy, so we need to practice safe sunning. Here are some tips:

  • Between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Stay in the shade! Or, slather on the sunscreen and wear sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Did you know that foods high in antioxidants can protect skin from sun damage? Pack your snacks with nuts, seeds, red/yellow/orange vegetables and fruits, leafy greens and berries.
  • Indoor tanning is VERY bad for your skin. It’s even more dangerous than being in direct sunlight for several hours. If you used tanning beds before age 30, your risk for developing melanoma increases by a whopping 75%.

Sunscreen basics

What is broad-spectrum sunscreen?
There are two types of UV light that can harm your skin — UVA and UVB . A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both.

What SPF should I use? And what exactly is SPF?
SPF means sun protection factor. It indicates how well the sunscreen protects against sunburn. You should use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. And make sure it’s water resistant. Even if you’re not going into the water, you could sweat it off. And don’t forget to reapply every 80 minutes!

What are physical sunblocks?
These are actually better options than chemical sunscreens because they create a physical barrier to deflect the sun’s rays. They’re especially good if you have sensitive skin. Look for a product listing zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide as the only active ingredients (often called “Mineral Sunscreen” or “Sunblock” on product labels). Shade, shirts, hats and sunglasses are also great physical sunblocks.

Suspicious spots can send you spinning. But with a skin assessment at Goshen Health, your mind can be put at ease. Appointments are readily available and screenings are simple.

Need a doctor? All of our Goshen Physicians primary care offices are welcoming new patients. Call (574) 537-5000 or review our list of offices.