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May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

At Concept Medical in Ottawa, your overall health is important to us. Many of us forget that the health of our skin is something to not be neglected. Here in Ottawa, we may feel like our winters are long and we do not get enough sun to be concerned about skin cancer. However, the sun does shine, even in those cold winter months! Therefore, we need to protect our skin year round.   While no one is immune to developing skin cancer, there are some people who may be slightly more susceptible.   Are you at an increased risk for developing skin cancer? Here are some of the factors that may elevate your risk:

  • Pale skin that burns easily;
  • Red or blonde hair;
  • Blue eyes;
  • A large number of moles;
  • A large number of freckles;
  • Skin previously damaged by radiotherapy;
  • Having five or more sunburns;
  • A suppressed immune system from illness or medication;
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as creosote and arsenic;
  • A previous diagnosis of skin cancer

Skin cancer is not always preventable, but we should try to reduce our chances of developing it by:

  • Avoiding overexposure to UV light;
  • Using sunscreen and dressing sensibly in the sun;
  • Avoid using sunbeds and sunlamps;
  • Check your skin regularly for signs of skin cancer to help with early diagnosis and increase your chances of treating it successfully.

It is easy to simply avoid using tanning beds; but most people will be spending time outdoors in the sun, so this is why choosing, and applying, an effective sunscreen is so important.   But what should you look for in a sunscreen?

The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends a sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher. It should come with broad-spectrum protection, which will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.   If you have already had skin cancer, or there is a family history of the disease, you should be sure to use a higher SPF. Sunblock should be applied 15 minutes before going outside. Ideally, you should re-apply every two hours when you are in the sun. If you are swimming or sweating you may need to re-apply more frequently.   If you prefer a chemical-free sunblock, there are options with zinc oxide that are available. Zinc sunscreen blocks the widest spectrum of UVA and UVB rays, which protects your skin from burning and premature aging. Even the most sensitive skin types can use sunscreens containing zinc.   During Melanoma Awareness Month the medical staff at Concept Medical in Ottawa encourage you to learn more about preventing skin cancer. We accept physician referrals for the management of certain skin cancers. Please contact us for further information.

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