Skin Self-Exam

Protecting yourself from skin cancer through early detection and UV protection

Why do it

Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer known to man. It can be as equally deadly to teens as it can be to older people. Malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer was found in 40,000 people in 1997 and resulted in 7300 deaths. Once again early detection is the key.

When to do it

Start now and do it once a month.

How to do it

Get naked and stand in front of a full length mirror. Examine your skin from head to toe. Look for moles and other discolorations. (Moles are areas of skin packed full of the skin pigment melanin.) If the mole has a regular shape, a smooth boundary, and is a consistent dark brown in color, you have nothing to worry about. If you notice the mole is growing, is changing in color, has an irregular boundary, or has several different hues (from black to bluish for example) see your doctor immediately. These could be signs that the mole is actually skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Risk Groups:

Fair skin, light hair and light eye color. Whites have a 20% greater risk of skin cancer than do blacks. However no one is safe. Those with a family history of melanoma Those with irregular, growing moles Those who subject themselves to painful or blistering sunburn during youth Those who work or play outdoors for prolonged periods of time.

Avoiding Skin Cancer

Overexposure to the sun accelerates the aging process, and can cause deadly skin cancer. The way you treat your skin now, is crucial to its health in your early twenties and on. The elastic fibers in your skin normally keep the skin soft, young and healthy. Sun destroys these fibers, causing skin to become highly wrinkled, saggy, hard and leathery as early as your twenties. Someone who suntans regularly can easily look 70 by the time they turn 30. Tanned skin is essentially damaged skin. Skin damaged by the sun can also develop skin cancer resulting in death by the early twenties. Tanning salons are death camps. Tans obtained from tanning beds or sun lamps look completely unnatural anyway. Remember, what looks good on a person of one race might look ridiculous on a person of another. Fair skin that is soft and healthy is absolutely beautiful. If you burn yourself to get color, you are sabotaging the natural beauty of your skin.

It only takes some people 10 minutes to get sunburn.
If you want to enjoy your summer or snow activities in winter, follow these guidelines whenever you plan to spend a significant amount of time outside

Everyone should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Cover every spot on your body that will be exposed. Your nose, ears, lips, knees and shoulders burn the fastest because their surface faces up toward the sky. Use a sunscreen chap stick on your lips. Make sure to double dose your nose since it's the most common place for skin cancer.

Clouds are no protection. Use sunscreen in any weather.

Reapply the sunscreen throughout the day, because sweat causes sunscreen to wear off. It is especially important to reapply sunscreen before and after swimming, since wet skin is more receptive to ultraviolet rays.

Do not suntan between 10am and 2pm. You might as well watch a nuclear bomb explode.

Apply sunscreen under clothes that don't fully block the sun. If you're wearing a tight loosely-woven article of clothing, make sure to rub sunscreen into the skin underneath it, since these types of clothes don't block diddlysquat.

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