May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness month and after 20+ years in practice as a dermatologist, my best advice is prevention and protection. Early detection and prompt treatment of skin cancer is essential in maintaining a clear bill of health. Every season check your moles and look for changes in their size, color and shape. Also be sure to also book an annual appointment with your physician for a full body scan.

There is a world of information available on general practices of sun safety, but here are my Top 10 Sunscreen Secrets you may not have heard but should be practicing:

1. Pink is the New Red: If your sunscreen leaves your skin looking pink, then it is insufficient and you need a higher SPF factor. Pink is the new standard for skin cancer prevention.
2. Crossing the Line: Apply sunscreen all the way up to your hairline. Don’t be afraid to mess up your hair with the product. I’m seeing a mini epidemic of skin cancer of the upper forehead in people who failed to apply in this area for fear of a bad hair day.
3. Change up your ‘do: Sweep hair over the top of your head instead of parting it in the middle. It’s a new look that will protect the scalp from sunburn. This is a great idea for kids too!
4. Sign of Nature: Freckles may be cute but only come out when your sunscreen is inadequate. It’s nature’s warning sign that you got too much sun.
5. Wardrobe Malfunction: The sun rays actually bend and concentrate around surfaces such as sunglass rims, tank top straps and bathing suits. An extra layer of sunscreen is always a very good idea.
6. Sun Rx: Lots of medications make you more sensitive to the sun. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist. Not only do some make you more vulnerable to sun burns, some may also cause dark blotches and discoloration. This is especially true of birth control pills.
7. In the Driver’s Seat: Sun light passes through a vehicle’s windshield in sufficient quantities strong enough to cause sun damage. Daily exposure adds up. Wear sunscreen behind the wheel.
8. Opted for Oil-Free: Wear oil-free sunscreen if you are acne prone, have large pores or oily skin. Sometimes these products are a little less water resistant, so check the label to be sure you’re practicing proper protection.
9. Missing Spots: Remember to apply sunscreen to your ears, lips and backs of neck and hands. These areas are all vulnerable to skin cancer and often overlooked.
10. Doctor’s Note: Have your physician check your vitamin D levels in your bloodstream if you are super avoidant of the sun. While this is great for prevention of skin cancer, I am seeing vitamin D deficiency in my most conscientious patients. Remember, vitamin D requires only a little sun to become active. Simply taking a few vitamin D capsules a day offers you the best of both worlds.
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New York Dermatologist