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Skin Cancer Self Check

To protect our skin from sun burn

A skin cancer self-check?

What do I check for? Why do I need to do that?

The part of the Cancer.org site that has the pictures offers a great reference for identifying your skin cancer if you have one. I could place some images on my site. But feel they have more impact when left where they are. Check them out at the following link. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/skin-cancer-image-gallery.html

At this point what I hope to do is make you aware of what skin cancer is so that you can make informed decisions going forward for yourself and your family. Making you aware of the importance of knowing what is happening with your skin. Awareness of what can happen if skin cancer remains untreated.

Awareness Is A Life Saver

The sun is sneaky. It is always there, at least in my part of central Texas. Days without sunshine are not a regular event.

The skin cancer pictures aren’t pretty. Skin cancer isn’t pretty. This is not what you were signing up for when you were enjoying all that fun in the sun. Your days of working in the garden.

All the hours you spend driving your car.

Watching the kids play ball or tennis. Accepting a triathlon challenge. Once more here is an opportunity to see what skin cancer looks like so you can be informed.

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/skin-cancer-image-gallery.html

Skin cancer is the most common cancer we have. It is usually the easiest to treat of all the different cancers. When you find it early, there are few problems in being able to heal. This common cancer affects about 50% of the population.

Caught Early Is The Secret

As with any cancer treatment, early is the key to a successful treatment outcome. One thing I need to be more responsible about is visually checking out my own body. I recently learned that melanoma can occur where you were not exposed. So, you can get it on protected or unexposed areas of your body.

I watched my arms, my nose, shoulders. The places that had been sunburned before. Melanoma can be different and occur on skin not exposed.

A regular and thoughtful visual personal skin examination is a reasonable way to make sure you know how your skin surface is protecting you.  Using a handheld mirror can help you see your back. Is the surface of your skin healthy looking?

What Am I Looking For?

Do you wonder what you should be looking for when you do a quick visual check of your body?  That is reasonable. We don’t usually know what we are looking for.  However, a basic guide includes:

  • Face: especially your nose, lips, mouth and your ears front and back
  • Head;  thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Maybe a friend or family member can help. 
  • Hands;  palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both the front and back of your forearms.
 
  • Arms:  standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms, the underarms.
  • Torso: the neck, chest and torso. Lift the breasts to view the undersides.
  • Upper Back: With your back to the full-length mirror, use a hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back 
  • Lower Back;  using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks and backs of both legs.
  • Legs:  Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin. Ankles and feet, including soles, toes and nails (no polish)

Finish The Job

Did you notice any moles or warts or other growths on your body? Do any of these growths look different? Inflammed? Irritated. Are there any spots that are sensitive and get irritated from your clothing? Any dark spots? White patches that look different from the skin around them?

Pay attention to the areas of your back, arms, and legs as well as your torso, front, and back. Are there any growths, red or irritated spots? This is a quick exam that can be easy.

Often we don’t do the self-care steps to keep us healthy because they seem too easy and unimportant. If you are a person who is out in the sun a great deal, once a month even though you are not in your swimwear.

This small bit of personal health care can help you realize if you need to visit your dermatologist. Learn how to do a skin cancer self-check. If you notice something not looking right on your skin, see your dermatologist.

Sun Cancer Protection

You are your own advocate. Make sure that knowledge is present for your skin health as well as somc common sense for sun blocking clothing as well as using sunscreen protection.                                                                     Six Misconceptions About Skin Cancer

You are the first in line for your health care. Do the simple steps and take care of yourself. Helping each of us become aware of how to assure better health for ourselves, and helping us understand how and why goes a long way.

Do you understand why? Do you understand how?

My Side Of The Research Story

During the months that I have been researching and learning about skin cancer, I didn’t want to learn about Melanoma first. I keep going around that information marking it to come back to once I was more knowledgeable of the early cancer stages.

In my personal experience, we haven’t had to deal with melanoma. However, we have had many episodes of the other earlier cancer types. As that is what more people have, and what they need to deal with, it made sense to me that the earlier forms of cancer were more important.

This is an ongoing effort to learn more and more for me. I think that I can do a better job of sharing with you the reasons skin cancer happens and what the earlier spots look like.

Starting with melanoma first is similar to trying to pass the test before opening the textbook! I hope that it won’t cause any confusion for you if I stay on the path that works for me.

Also, I can save you many hours of digging through the reports and research findings that are shared online. My dermatologist also impressed on me the need to share with my family as I have more time right now than they do. So hopefully you can find some bits and pieces to help you keep yourself and your family safe from skin cancer.

If you suspect any problems or areas on your skin’s surface that don’t look right, see your dermatologist. Don’t let a lack of knowledge make you delay getting help. Use the information above in this article about the self-skin examination. Pay attention to the characteristics of your skin. You are not being vain. You are being careful and aware.

Earliest Signs Of Skin In Trouble From Sunburn

Skin cancer starts with being in the sun, and problems usually arise from getting too much sun. For some, the first sign of too much sun is a rash, like a heat rash on the skin. Often on your cheeks, undersides of your arms, or chest area. This is sometimes referred to as sun poisoning.

Getting in out of the sun, cold wet cloths to forehead and face, and the back of the neck will offer some relief from the feverish feeling this usually brings.

Drinking several glasses of water is a good idea to hydrate your body from the inside out. Dehydration is often the cause of any faint or nauseous feelings and will help you recover faster.

The Next Level Of Sun Exposure

With the “sun poisoning” level of skin damage from too much sun, you will notice the red rash and general discomfort in the exposed areas.  Actually, this is the sunburning your skin. The exposed skin will turn red in the exposed areas, will be tender and often puffy looking. 

You may have a slight headache, feel feverish and be a bit nauseated.  By the time you reach the sunburn stage of sun exposure, you will be dehydrated as well.   

Get out of the sun.  Drink water.  Cool wet cloths to your head and where ever you are red will make you more comfortable. 

The more dangerous levels of sunburn will still be making you uncomfortable after getting out of the sun.  Getting cool water gently splashed on your face and body will help cool you down.  So will cool wet cloths on your face, back of your neck. 

Drinking cool water anytime you are out even if you are not concerned about sunburn is a good move.  If these measures don’t relieve your discomfort pretty quickly, you may have a sunstroke.  

With sunstroke, you may, or may not be blistered, but got too hot while in the direct sun.  Your body is not able to keep up with the work or play exertion and you are near losing consciousness.   

This happens often in sports.  If your first-aid efforts of drinking water, cooling your body, getting out of the sun are not helping, you will need medical help.  Go immediately to a medical facility.  You may need to ask for help by calling 911.

How Is Your Sun Care Awareness?

Anyone can be subject to any degree of sunstroke.  Being in the hot sun causes your body to use more of its available water to cool you to a more normal temperature.  Most of us can handle some heat exposure.   But all should be aware that problems can develop.   We should be aware of how our bodies are reacting.

Do you need to seek shade?  Or is it 911 time?  Be aware.  Know what is happening with yourself, your loved ones young and old.  

Just like knowing when you or a loved one needs to get out of the sun, if there is a danger of heats stroke or other heat-related danger, awareness is important. We need to be aware of how our bodies are reacting to the heat and sun.

Skin Cancer Self Check can make you aware of the basics of taking care of your skin.

Do you have a mirror to check your back skin area? Are you aware of the first steps of helping yourself when you have been in the sun and heat too long?

Your awareness of what you can do to stay healthy and safe is important.

Learn How To Protect Your Skin
Sami’s Take On Skin Cancer Self Check

Often we let ourselves get too hot while out in the heat. It has happened to me at kids’ ball games. I was never in trouble. Knowing that drinking cold water, getting into a shade. These were the things I did to allow my body to cool down and my temperature to get back to more normal.

If I had been actively participating in an activity that was contributing to the dehydration and heat, I probably would not have returned to normal so quickly. Had I pushed on to stay in the game, I would have probably been sick. We do have to watch our kids. They are young and unaware of the dangers they face.

They need us to help. It is the same with skin cancer self-check. This is something we can do to protect our bodies. You probably received more sun on your back, almost as much as on your head. This makes your back a logical place to do a skin cancer self-check.

These are simple things. We can take responsibility for our self-care. Making ourselves aware of how we can stay healthy is important. Knowing that I know some of what to watch for gives me a feeling of control. Control of my overall health. What about you?

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