“We know that most melanomas are new lesions and most of them are found by the patient,” says Dr. Elizabeth Arthur, of Helendale Dermatology in
Arthur, like many local dermatologists is encouraging patients who may be soaking up the sun this season to not only see a professional for a skin check but to pay close attention to their skin themselves.
“We've always wanted people to look at their own skin, we like looking at people's skin but we know that patients will find their own skin cancer.”
You should be looking for any new moles or spots on the skin. Pay close attention to changes in existing moles such as color change, splotchiness, asymmetry, growth or spreading on the skin.
“When you get out of the shower, you really want to look at your arms. Have your spouse, your mom, your dad to look at your back. They've actually done studies that wives are very good at finding moles on their husbands...husbands not so good at finding moles on their wives,” says Arthur.
While Vitamin D does come from the sun, specialists say those ads touting tanning as a good source of vitamin d are false.
"You get enough Vitamin D just sitting in a car, 10-15 minutes kind of thing. I mean 10-15 minutes in Rochester a week is your vitamin D,” says Arthur, “it's almost I think sort of reckless advertising to try to put a medical reason for tanning. I think the hardest thing about tanning is that it's addictive for patients.”
This season, your sun-safe musts are simple: sunglasses, a good brimmed hat, light-colored clothing and a good sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Remember to also limit your time in sun.
“You can still put on your sunscreen but you still should have common sense you still shouldn't still out in the sun because you won't get burned but you're still going to do damage," says Arthur.