melanoma awareness month, skin cancer, skin cancer prevention, UVA UVB meaning, SPF, ABCDE of melanoma, warning signs melanoma

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May is Melanoma Awareness Month. As a beauty enthusiast and skincare advocate, I have covered skin cancer prevention numerous times on the blog. Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer; caught late, survival rate is markedly diminished. Statistically, more than 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year. It is also the most common cancer-related diagnosis among young adults (source, Melanoma Research Alliance). Unlike other forms of cancer, melanoma is highly preventable, only if you take skincare seriously. Here are ways to keep the largest organ of our body in check:

1. Wear sunscreen. The beauty industry exploded the use of such in a positive way. Moisturizers, foundations, serums, lotions, lipsticks, there’s a plethora of choices out there, be it drugstore or high-end brand. So let’s do a quick review of terminologies. UVA rays are responsible for premature wrinkles and photoaging while UVB rays contribute to sunburn and skin cancer. SPF numbers shouldn’t be confused with strength but rather length of protection. Meaning, if your skin reddens in 15 minutes without protection, SPF 25 will protect you 25 times longer or 375 minutes. Reapplication is highly encouraged especially if you’re out in the sun longer than usual.

2. Learn the warning signs, ABCDE. Do you have moles you can quickly check now? look for Asymmetry (if you draw a line vertically or horizontally, do the sides match? if one is bigger than the other, it’s asymmetrical); check the Border (irregular borders raise a flag); inspect the Color (most benign moles have one color, if yours have multiple shades of brown and black, it’s a warning sign); measure the Diameter (malignant moles are larger than benign, usually 6 mm or more); Evolving (change in size, color, bleeding, itching).

3. Avoid tanning beds at all cost. Indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma by 75%

4. Know your risk factors. Fair-skinned, history of sun overexposure and familial skin cancer are some of the most common risk factors. It doesn’t hurt to get an annual check with your doctor or dermatologist.

5. Be in the know. Seek shade between 10 am to 4 pm and wear protective clothing and accessories such as wide brimmed hat and UV- blocking sunnies.

Any tips you’d like to add?

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