May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a great time for people to think about protecting their skin and be on the look out for warning signs. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year.¹ The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. To lower your risk, always protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Sun protection is essential year-round, not just in the summer. Whether you’re at the beach or just working in the yard, sun safety should be an everyday habit! Keep your family sun-safe this summer, and keep a tote bag with sunscreen essentials ready for whenever you walk out the door! The best protection from the sun is to stay in the shade, especially from late morning through mid-afternoon when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you can’t stay in the shade, it’s best to wear a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF15 and both UVA and UVB protection to all exposed skin. Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun in as little as 15 minutes. And remember, you still need protection even if the weather is cool and cloudy. Skin Cancer Awareness Month is also a perfect time to check yourself for moles. While most moles are harmless and rarely become cancerous, monitoring them is still an important step in detecting skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma.2 The first signs of melanoma are usually a change to an existing mole or a new skin growth. They are usually found in areas that have been in direct sun, but can also occur in places that get no sun exposure. Look for asymmetrical shape, irregular borders, uneven color, and diameter larger than a pencil eraser. Changes in your moles and symptoms like itchiness, tenderness or bleeding are also warning signs. At the Pure Dermatology Cosmetic and Hair Center, we encourage everyone to protect their skin and watch out for signs of skin cancer. We offer Skin Cancer Screenings, and treatment for all types of skin cancers, including Photodynamic Therapy for Actinic Keratosis. If you or a loved one are seeing any irregularities in your skin, we are here to help. Give us a call to schedule your annual full-body skin examination.