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Melanoma & Skin Cancer Awareness

Hi, my name is Nikki, and I’m a certified medical assistant with Houston Skin Associates. Today, I’d like to talk to you about the importance of skin cancer and melanoma awareness.

So, there are a few things that we want to educate you guys on in terms of what to look for if you happen to have a lot of moles. They are called the A, B, C, Ds of melanoma. A is for symmetry, what that means is your mole should honestly look the same on both sides. One side should not look different from the other side. B is border irregularity, and we look to see if the borders of the mole is jagged or uneven, which is border irregularity. C is color variation, meaning that, for instance, your mole is dark brown, but you notice that the outside has different colors. Sometimes, those colors can be red, light brown, darker brown, that is color variation. D is for diameter. Your moles should be uniform in size and color – usually about 1/4 millimeter which is about the size of a pencil eraser. So, if your mole for many, many years has remained the same, you’re okay, but if any of changes occur, the best thing to do is actually get in and make an appointment with your dermatologist. 9 times out of 10, these changes indicate an abnormal mole.

One of the things that’s really important for us to stress to you is if you have had a history of skin cancers, that you take extra precautions. You know the three skin cancers are basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. It’s really important that you follow up every six months for a full-body skin check. If you have not been diagnosed with a history of skin cancer, it’s good for you to actually get in with your dermatologist at least once a year. We teach our patients that just because they don’t get sun exposure now doesn’t mean they’re completely safe from skin cancer. Studies have shown that skin cancers come from the sun exposure you had as a child.

Basal cell, the most common skin cancer, comes from the past 20 years or more of your sun exposure. At any point in your life, if you were a child that spent a lot of time outdoors, then as an adult, it is very important to get your skin checked. This is especially true if you have moles, family history of skin cancer or you’ve had a history of abnormal moles.

Sun protection is more than just sunscreen. Sun protection can include hats (wide brim, not the nice stylish hats that we like but wide brim hats that actually cover your face and your shoulders), and your UV protection clothing (I personally like Academy’s because they actually come in different colors). During the summer months I personally like to dress myself and my children in the UV protective clothing that literally covers them everywhere.

The other way to protect your skin from the sun is sunscreen. Sometimes we think, “Oh, I covered you with sunscreen, now I can let you go in the sun.” If your children going to be in the sun all day, though, that’s about as good as not putting sunscreen on them at all. Studies have shown that it is actually best to apply sunscreen every hour and a half to two hours that you’re in the sun. So if an hour-and-a-half passes and you swam, that sunscreen probably washed off. Anytime your or your child get out of whatever body water you’re in, it is always best to actually reapply sunscreen.

Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists or physician’s assistants by calling our office at 281-333-DERM (3376) or by making an appointment online at www.houstonskin.com. We offer same day and Saturday appointments at all of our four locations.

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