1. Seek the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM while the sun is strongest. The rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.
2. Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
3. Avoiding tanning and UV tanning booths. The more time a person has spent in tanning booths, the higher the risk of skin cancer.
4. Cover up with clothing. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
5. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher year round. For extended outdoor activity, we recommend zinc oxide containing sun blocks for the best and safest protection.
6. Protect children's skin from too much sun. Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation— just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
7. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately.
8. Have annual skin check mapping performed by Dr. Barr. She will check all those hard-to-see places , using a special DermaScope to illuminate, magnify, map and video record all suspicious skin lesions. When indicated, the doctor may also take a biopsy to rule out cancerous conditions.
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Diagnosing Skin Cancer
Annual skin exams play an important role in preventing skin cancer, and are key in preventing susceptible lesions from advancing to cancer. Self-exams at home between annual exams can reveal a suspicious lesion or mole that should be referred to your doctor.
Skin Mapping and Skin Exams
Here at the Center for Traditional Medicine we recommend annual skin exams. You will be gowned while your skin is examined from head to toe, with nothing left unnoticed or overlooked. All moles and skin lesions will be examined, and the mapping recorded for yearly comparisons.
During annual skin exams, while Dr. Barr observes and records all lesions and moles on your body, if she comes across anything she feels looks suspicious, she examines it further with a tool called a dermascope. If indicated, she will perform a small biopsy to rule out any concern. She will recommend treatment for any sun damage or AK’s that she finds you to have.
Vitamin D and the Sun
The American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend getting vitamin D from natural sun exposure or artificial indoor tanning because the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and tanning beds leads to the development of skin cancer.
There are healthier safer alternatives for your source of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D Rich Foods Getting vitamin D from a healthy diet. Vitamin D is especially high in fish. Other great sources of Vitamin D are oranges, lamb, beef, chicken, and dairy products. Vitamin D can be taken in the nutritional supplement form, cholecalciferol. Nutritional supplement is key for increasing the amount during the winter months.
Author Dr. Dhai Barr has spent her life touring France, Canada, and the United States learning her craft from the masters of medical aesthetics. She believes that health and vitality are the foundation of beauty.