I looked closely in the 5X magnifying mirror. Was that dark spot on my face bigger than it had been?
It definitely looked different. It definitely had more than one color.
I made the appointment with the dermatologist that day.
The cancer you can see
The cool thing about your skin is that you can see it, so it’s pretty easy to keep tabs on its health.
Sun damaged skin=not healthy.
Dry, flaky, or peeling skin=not healthy
Red or inflamed skin=not healthy
New or changing mole=see your dermatologist
Smooth, clear, moist, glowing skin=healthy
May is skin cancer awareness month
The truth is that you need to be aware of skin cancer throughout the year, but with summer right around the corner, May is a great time to remind everyone about the risks that come with too much sun exposure.
Melanoma and skin cancer awareness is super important.
Skin cancer rates are on the rise and you need to aware of your skin and any changes to it, especially dark spots and moles.
It’s easy to put this stuff off for later, but please don’t.
A new growth or a changing mole as well as non-healing lesions or areas, itchy, peeling, or discolored spots should be looked at by a board-certified dermatologist.
I know that I’ve spent a lot of time in the sun and that I haven’t always been as conscientious about sunscreen as I could/should have.
Possibilities flitted in and out of my mind as I waited for my derm appointment.
The good news for me is that the biopsy showed no cancer and the dark spot turned out to be one of the common warty that we tend to form as we get older (I know-sounds gross,but it really just looks like a large freckle).
Relief. But also a renewed appreciation for my health and my skin.
The biggest single thing you can do for skin health (and the only truly anti-aging treatment) is to apply SPF 30 or greater sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather. This means when it’s raining, cloudy, snowing, or winter as well as on sunny days.
Even if you don’t plan on being “out in the sun” for more than a few minutes, you still get damaging rays through windows and when you’re driving.
Most skin cancers are the result of repeated insults from the sun.
Sunburns do massive amounts of damage to your skin cell’s DNA and over time the damage can trigger cancer cells.
The problem is that small amounts of damage over a long period of time also affect your cell’s DNA, resulting in premature aging and possibly cancerous changes.
The good news is that skin changes are something you can monitor and take early action on. I now go for a yearly skin check at my dermatologist and I suggest you do too.
Your Amazing Skin
Healthy skin is much more than not having skin cancer. You’ve probably heard more than once (maybe even here on the blog) that your skin is your largest organ.
I often feel that skin is under appreciated. It literally keeps you alive by keeping germs and foreign matter out and water in. It regulates your body temperature and helps to make vitamin D among other vital functions.
Here are some fun facts about your skin:
- The average adult has approximately 16 – 22 square feet of skin, which weighs around 9 – 11 lbs.
- Skin accounts for about 15% of your body weight.
- The skin serves as a protective barrier that helps to keep water in the body and harmful chemicals and germs out.
- The skin has three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutis or hypodermis.
- The thickness of the skin varies between different parts of the body. It’s thickest on the soles of your feet and thinnest on your eyelids.
- The skin completely renews itself every 28 days by constantly shedding dead cells. This begins to take longer as we get older (after about 30) and can take up to 60 days by the time we’re 60. But still pretty amazing
- Skin sheds around 30,000 cells per minute. A large part of the dust in your home is actually made up of dead skin cells. (you may not have wanted to know this).
- Your skin is home to millions of bacteria, from over 1,000 different species. These are the good guys that make up your skin microbiome.
- Skin that is damaged can heal itself by forming a scar. Unlike normal skin, scar tissue lacks hair and sweat glands.
- Skin that is exposed to repeated friction or pressure can become thicker, forming a callus. Pretty smart.
- Skin is a major sensory organ. There are different types of receptors and nerve endings in the skin that respond to pressure, pain, and temperature.
Keep It Healthy
In other words, your skin isn’t just a shrink wrap covering for the rest of you. It’s a multi-functional structure that’s in close communication with your other organs, like your gut, liver, heart, brain, kidneys and so on.
Your skin is a mirror for what’s going on in the rest of you.
This is another reason to really keep an eye on skin changes. They are the messenger for your whole body and one that you can see.
Just like the rest of your body, your skin needs to protected, nourished, hydrated, and taken care of. And because it’s on the outside of your body, it needs more active protection. The good news is that you can take care of it from the inside out and the outside in.
The basics of good health help keep your skin looking good and healthy too-diet, drinking plenty of water, exercise, sleep, time in nature, time with friends, stress reduction.
But because it’s on the outside of the body, it’s constantly exposed to sun, wind, weather, pollution, and other environmental stressors that don’t affect the other organs as directly. It needs some extra help. Here is where good skin care comes in:
- Cleansing to remove dirt and debris.
- Serums with active ingredients to help supply nutrients that are in shorter supply starting in your 30’s
- Moisturizers to help hydrate the skin and seal in your natural moisture.
And most importantly- protection from the sun’s UV rays.
This means daily sunscreen, wearing hats and other protective clothing, and staying out of the sun when it’s the strongest.
I’m really excited about the two new sun protection products that SunWindSnow is introducing in May. The first one is available starting next week and I’ll tell you more about it then.