Posts for tag: Skin Cancer
It’s important to know when changes in your skin warrant an immediate checkup.
Wondering what the warning signs are for skin cancer? Want to know what symptoms and issues our Indianapolis, IN, dermatologist Dr. Sonya Campbell Johnson should check out right away? Here are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, as well as the risk factors that could increase your chances of developing cancer.
What Melanoma Looks Like
Melanoma is a serious and potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer; therefore, the sooner you have growths, lesions or other skin changes checked out by a skin doctor in Indianapolis the better. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body and affects people of all skin tones. Warning signs of melanoma include:
- Any mole that changes shape, size or color
- A mole that is asymmetrical or has a blurry or poorly defined border
- Any lesion or mole that has multiple colors including red, pink, white, or blue
- A painful bump or growth that may also itch or burn
- Dark lesions on the fingers, toes, soles, or hands (they can even develop in the mouth or nose)
What Non-Melanoma Looks Like
The two most common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are more likely to develop in areas of the body that are exposed to the sun. Even though they are as dangerous as melanoma these symptoms and warning signs still warrant seeing a dermatologist right away to have the cancerous growth removed.
A basal cell carcinoma may look like a flesh-colored or brown lesion, or a waxy bump. The bump may go away and return, or the sore may scab over or bleed. A squamous cell carcinoma may look like a crusted flat lesion or a hard, red bump.
The Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Even if you are at a low risk for developing skin cancer it’s still important that you perform thorough self-exams on your own skin to look for any new growths or lesions. This means checking areas like your scalp or even between your toes. You may need your partner or a dermatologist to check certain areas like your scalp to thoroughly examine any moles or new growths.
Risk factors for skin cancer include:
- Fair skin
- Having sunburns in the past
- Excessive sun exposure
- Having lots of moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A personal history of skin cancer
Dermatology Associates in Indianapolis is here to provide you with the care and screenings you need to diagnose and pinpoint skin cancer during the earliest stages. No matter whether you are noticing a new growth or you are at a high risk for skin cancer, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us by calling (317) 257-1484 or emailing us at [email protected]
We all want to achieve a healthy tan. It makes us look and feel better, but that bronzed glow may not be as healthy as you think. A tan is your skin’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light. This darkening of the skin cells is the skin's natural defense against further damage from UV radiation.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nearly 28 million people tan in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens. Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless, but this is far from true. Tanning beds emit UVA and usually UVB rays as well. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause long-term skin damage and premature aging (i.e. wrinkles, spots and sagging skin), and can contribute to skin cancer.
The AAD states that the risk of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—is 75% higher among people who used tanning beds in their teens and 20s. Despite the known risks associated with indoor tanning these numbers continue to increase, as do the incidences of cancer.
Visit your dermatologist immediately if you detect any unusual changes in your skin’s appearance, such as:
- A change or an increase in the size or thickness of a mole or spot
- Change in color or texture of the mole
- Irregularity in the border of a mole
Protecting yourself from UV exposure is the best defense against premature aging and skin cancer. In addition to avoiding indoor tanning beds, you should also always wear sunscreen outdoors to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Remember to self-examine your own skin as well as have your skin checked regularly by your dermatologist.
Whether you acquire your tan from the beach or a lamp, it’s not safe and it’s not healthy. If you’re a regular tanner, it may be time to rethink your current stance on the standards of beauty. There are safe alternatives to a bronzed glow without risking your health.
No one has perfect skin. We all have freckles, small scars, odd areas of pigmentation and more that are normal for us. However, after 40, and particularly after 50, skin changes because of sun exposure and the aging process. That's why your dermatologist in Indianapolis, Dr. Sonya Campbell Johnson at Dermatology Associates, wants you to perform skin self-examination and to see her yearly for a check-up. Skin cancer looks and feels different from other moles and marks on your skin; so know its early signs, and stay healthy.
Kinds of skin cancer in Indianapolis
There are three basic types: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. While all three affect the epidermis or outermost layer of the skin, basal cell and melanoma are in the deepest part of this layer. Also, basal cell typically grows on the face, hands and neck, while the other two types appear anywhere on the body, even on those areas consistently covered by clothing.
Additionally, you should know that melanoma is particularly worrisome because it spreads easily to other parts of the body. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma starts early, affecting people who are in their twenties. Basal cell carcinoma does not spread. All three kinds need an early diagnosis for the least invasive treatments and for a lasting cure.
Knowing the signs of skin cancer
The American Academy of Dermatology, along with your dermatologist in Indianapolis, urges you to know what skin cancer can look like and to observe your own skin each month for new growths or changes in existing moles. Here's an easy way to remember what to look for. It's called the ABCDEs of moles.
- A stands for asymmetry. If you drew a line down the center of your mole, the shape and size should remain the same on both sides.
- B means border. Borders of benign moles are smooth. Scallops or notches often indicate cancer.
- C stands for color. A mole should be evenly shaded throughout.
- D is diameter. Typically, moles are no larger than a pencil eraser. A larger size is a warning sign.
- E means evolution. If a mole changes in color, shape, or texture or begins to itch or bleed, this may mean skin cancer.
Additionally, skin doctors use something called the ugly duckling sign. If you have a group of moles, and one noticeably differs from the others, or changes while the others do not, you may have a skin cancer.
What you can do
Basically, be vigilant about exams. Also, Dr. Campbell Johnson recommends:
- Covering up in the hot sun
- Applying sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
- Staying out of the sun during peak times (between 10 am and 4 pm)
- Avoiding tanning beds
Also, please contact Dermatology Associates for a routine check-up or if you have any questions or concerns about the condition of your skin. Call for an appointment in Indianapolis: (317) 257-1484 or email at [email protected]
The more time you spend in the sun, the higher your skin cancer risk. Our Indianapolis, Batesville and Tipton, IN, dermatologist, Dr. Sonya Campbell Johnson, shares a few tips that will help you avoid this potentially dangerous disease.
Long sleeves, pants, and hats prevent the sun's rays from penetrating your skin. Stay comfortable by wearing lightweight fabrics that are made with tightly woven fibers to limit penetration.
Wearing sunscreen 365 days a year reduces your risk of developing skin cancer. Although many people don't worry about the effects of the sun during the winter months, burns or skin damage can occur even if it's cold outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Remember to reapply the product frequently, especially if you've been in the water.
Enjoy the shade
Find the shadiest spot you can when you spend time outdoors. Although shade doesn't completely protect you from the sun's rays, it will reduce your exposure to the sun.
Protect your eyes
Skin cancer can also occur in and around your eyes. Protect your vision by wearing sunglasses that prevent most of the dangerous rays from reaching your eyes. Wraparound sunglasses offer the highest level of protection, although wearing any type of sunglasses will help reduce your cancer and cataract risk.
Stay away from tanning beds
Contrary to popular belief, tanning beds aren't a safer alternative to sunbathing. If you don't like pale skin, try a spray tanning product instead.
Don't assume you're safe
Maybe you only tan and never burn, or perhaps you're sure that your skin tone protects you from the effects of the sun. Unfortunately, anyone can get skin cancer, even people who never burn or have darker skin tones.
Plan your beach visits
Visiting the beach in the early morning or evening will reduce your sun exposure. Stay away from Indianapolis, Batesville, and Tipton, IN, beaches from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. when the sun's rays are the most intense. If you are on the beach during these hours, reapply sunscreen frequently, use a beach umbrella or canopy, wear a rash guard when you swim and cover-up as soon as you exit the water.
Decrease your skin cancer risk by following these tips. If you happen to notice a strange spot or a change in a mole, call our Indianapolis, Batesville, and Tipton, IN, dermatologist, Dr. Campbell Johnson, to schedule an appointment.
Although moles are usually harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing melanoma. For this reason, it is important to regularly examine your skin for any moles that change in size, color, shape, sensation or that bleed. Suspicious or abnormal moles or lesions should always be examined by your dermatologist.
What to Look For
Remember the ABCDE's of melanoma when examining your moles. If your mole fits any of these criteria, you should visit your dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are poorly defined or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles of the feet and even under the nails. The best way to detect skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stage is by checking your skin regularly and visiting our office for a full-body skin cancer screening. Use this guide to perform a self-exam.
- Use a mirror to examine your entire body, starting at your head and working your way to the toes. Also be sure to check difficult to see areas, including between your fingers and toes, the groin, the soles of your feet and the backs of your knees.
- Pay special attention to the areas exposed to the most sun.
- Don't forget to check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you.
- Develop a mental note or keep a record of all the moles on your body and what they look like. If they do change in any way (color, shape, size, border, etc.), or if any new moles look suspicious, visit your dermatologist right away.
Skin cancer has a high cure rate if detected and treated early. The most common warning sign is a visible change on the skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole. Depending on the size and location of the mole, dermatologists may use different methods of mole removal. A body check performed by a dermatologist can help determine whether the moles appearing on the body are pre-cancerous or harmless.