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Do you know your best defense against skin cancer?

Did you know that one in five Americans will develop a form of skin cancer in their lifetime? It’s hard to believe, but according to the American Melanoma Foundation, more than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every single year. Those are some scary numbers, but lucky, many forms of skin cancer can be treated if they’re found early.

When was the last time you had a skin cancer check? If you’re like most Americans, regular self-inspections aren’t something you schedule into your calendar. But with the right tools and a spare 10 minutes, you can save yourself the stress of becoming a skin cancer statistic. Here’s how.

Take a look at this self check infographic from The American Academy of Dermatology. It gives an easy tutorial on how to inspect and recognize a body mole, and it also offers a clear visual example of what a potential melanoma might look like. You can use it to help guide you through the self-check process.

This graphic is an excellent resource, but omits some personal parts of the body that are still prone to cancerous spots.

Places like under the breasts and around the genitalia may not get sun, but they are still areas of potential concern that most people ignore. Don’t be one of them.

With summer coming up soon, it’s a good idea to brush up on your sun protection knowledge. Here are my favorite basic tips:

  1. Apply SPF liberally and every two hours when you are exposed to the sun. It is better to use SPF 15 generously than SPF 50 sparingly, and you’ll actually get much better sun protection.

  2. Avoid tanning beds - they are notorious for upping your chances of developing skin cancer.According to the Skin Cancer Institute, a person who uses tanning beds before the age of 35 increases his or her risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Hello, spray tan!

  3. If you get sunburned, stop all UV exposure immediately. If you have to be out and about apply SPF liberally, cover up your skin and wear a hat to minimize further damage. Apply a cool compress or aloe vera gel, and use a vitamin C toner to minimize discomfort. If the skin has been burned severely, some professional skin care salon/spas, including my friends at Liaf Collective, offer post-sunburn cooling facials to calm the burn and help minimize the damage.

Skin cancer is not to be taken lightly, especially in Southern California where our beautiful sunshine can also be a serious health hazard. Need more tips and information on how to protect yourself? Please feel free to get in touch, or check out our upcoming blog that busts the myths about SPF. Take Care, Michelle

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