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How to Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

We’ve made it to summer! And we’re all a little bit relieved for it. But with everything happening, don’t forget that the risk of skin cancer is still present when you spend time in the sun. 

In fact, one in five people, or 20% of the entire U.S. population, can expect to be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives. 

Don’t worry though. You can still enjoy the gorgeous weather outside by simply taking a few precautions. At the Chevy Chase, Maryland, office of Ali Hendi MD, our team is here to provide you with the latest in skin cancer care and dermatologic surgery. 

That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide to how you can reduce your risk of skin cancer while still enjoying the summer.

1. Use sunscreen

One of the easiest things that you can do to reduce your risk for skin cancer is to incorporate sunscreen into your daily skincare routine. Even if it’s a cloudy day, you still need to apply sunscreen every time you plan on being outside for an hour or longer.

Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that’s also marked “water-resistant,” especially if you’re spending time at the beach, at the pool, or while working out outdoors. 

For the best level of protection, you’ll want to use about 1.5 ounces (think one shot glass) of sunscreen on your whole face and body and reapply every two hours.

2. Stay in the shade

Staying in the shade is another simple way to protect yourself from the sun. You’ll want to do this, particularly during the mid-day hours—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—or when sunlight is most intense. Try staying under a tree, umbrella, or covered porch for shade.

3. Cover your skin

We get it, not everyone likes to wear sunscreen. And if you opt to forego this method of protection, then it might be best to wear protective clothing. This includes lightweight long-sleeve shirts, long pants or skirts, and a wide-brimmed hat. 

When picking your summer clothes, you’ll want to choose tightly-woven fabrics and clothes that are Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rated for the best protection.

4. Put on sunglasses

To protect your eyes and the very sensitive skin around them, you’ll want to choose oversized or wraparound-style sunglasses with lenses that have 100% protection against UV radiation, including UVA and UVB light rays.

If you wear glasses normally, you’ll want to choose prescription sunglasses with UV coating. These will give you the best of both worlds — protection against UV rays and clear vision! OTC sunglasses can be hit or miss. Don’t wear sunglasses you aren’t sure of, and only buy those that are clearly labeled as 100% UV-rated.

5. Check your skin  

You can still follow the above steps and find yourself with a questionable-looking mole or growth. Thus, it’s important to check your skin regularly. When examining your skin, be on the lookout for scaly patches, dome-shaped growths, and unchanging moles. 

Some moles are more likely to become cancerous than others. You’ll want to look for the ABCDEs of atypical moles by checking for:

If you notice any of the above or if your skin feels uncomfortable, itchy, or is bleeding, then give us a call. In addition to checking the health of your skin, we can also provide you with a comprehensive skin cancer surveillance exam and treatment options, if necessary.

How we treat skin cancer

Though the above measures are highly effective and your first defense against skin cancer, there’s no way to totally eliminate your risk. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly treatable, especially if we catch it in the early stages. 

If you have actinic keratosis, a pre-malignant growth usually found on the most sun-exposed areas of your skin, then we can treat it with photodynamic therapy (PDT), a light-based treatment that kills precancerous cells and clears your skin.

This is an ideal treatment because it uses a specialized light and a photosynthesizing agent to eliminate precancerous cells. As an added bonus, research shows that PDT works as well as excision surgery or radiation therapy, but without the scarring or long-term side effects.

If you have a mole that’s bleeding, patchy, or painful or you’re concerned that you may be at risk for skin cancer, call our Chevy Chase, Maryland, office today at 301-259-5604. 

Please note that due to the COVID-19 situation, we are taking a limited number of in-office appointments for patients whose concerns cannot wait. If you would like to schedule a virtual visit, instead, you can request an appointment by calling 301-259-5604.

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