July 14, 2021 | Tags: Wellness

Many of us love being outside in the sun during the summer. Sunlight is also a great source of Vitamin D, which our bodies need to help keep us healthy. However, too much time spent in the sun without taking precautions can lead to overexposure to harmful UV radiation. And that can potentially cause skin cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several things you can do to protect your skin from harmful UV radiation, like wearing sunscreen, hats and sunglasses when outside in the sun.

Keep an eye on your skin

Skin cancers can show up in many shapes and sizes. Finding it early makes it much easier to treat. It’s a good idea to examine your skin on a monthly basis to see if you notice any changes. Look for new growths, spots, bumps, patches, or sores that don’t heal after several weeks. Shaving cuts that don’t heal in a few days sometimes turn out to be skin cancers, which often bleed easily.

Understand the types of skin cancers

Basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers are the most common forms of skin cancer and are easily treated. They are often found in areas that get exposed to a lot of sun, such as the head, neck, and arms, but they can develop anywhere on the body. Melanoma is less common than some other types of skin cancer, but is more likely to grow and spread.

The American Cancer Society has created a Skin Cancer Image Gallery to help you understand what different skin cancers look like.

Remember the ABCDE rule

The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that’s changing in size, shape, or color. The ABCDE rule is a simple tool you can use to look for common signs of melanoma:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about 1/4 inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

See your doctor

If you notice any changes to your skin that cause concern, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP). If you don’t have a PCP, you can use the Find a Provider tool after logging in to My Health Plan.