Skin Cancer Risks and Prevention

skin protection

At Rainy Lake Medical Center, we’re proud to be a family health clinic that can assist the entire family unit in all important medical areas. Our medical center doctors and specialists are to help, regardless of whether it’s a young child or an older adult in need.

One big area that has impacts on all ages, particularly during the warmer summer season? Skin cancer, also known as melanoma. Here are some basic tips our specialists can offer on the risks of skin cancer from sun exposure, and how you can protect your entire family this summer.

Skin Cancer Basics

Skin cancer is the single most common form of cancer found in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s caused by ultraviolet sun lights, which cannot be seen by our eyes but can cause major damage to the skin.

In most cases, melanoma will not be present until adulthood, usually the later years. But the potential for the kind of UV damage that causes it absolutely begins during childhood, and it’s vital to keep children protected.

Protecting the Whole Family

Some basic tips for protecting the entire family from sun risks this summer:

  • Sunscreen: Using products that area at least SPF 15 or higher, apply sunscreen to all exposed areas 15 minutes before going outside. This is the case even for cloudy days – the sun’s UV rays can make it through clouds. Reapply often, particularly if you’re sweating or swimming.
  • Clothing: Consider protective clothing elements like long sleeves, pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to simply block UV rays from hitting the skin.
  • Shade: Especially between peak sun hours (10am to 4pm), do your best to stay in the shade if possible.
  • Non-protective elements: Know that wet shirts or lighter colored shirts don’t protect as well. In addition, things like water, snow, sand and concrete reflect UV rays – keep this in mind when these areas are present.

Signs of Melanoma

If you’re an adult concerned you may have melanoma or may be at risk of it, remember the ABCDE method for irregular skin moles:

  • Asymmetry – if you have a mole with two sides that look different, this could be a sign.
  • Borders: Suspicious moles often have notched edges or other irregular outlines.
  • Color: If moles are multicolored, this is often a sign of melanoma. Most benign moles are a single color.
  • Diameter: Melanomas are usually a bit larger, around the size of a pencil eraser. Benign moles are usually smaller.
  • Evolving: While benign moles tend to stay the same, moles that evolve over time are worrisome and could be melanomas.

For more on taking the right care to prevent melanoma, or to learn about our radiology clinic or any of our other health clinic services, speak to the staff at Rainy Lake Medical Center today.

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