13 Jul Skin Cancer Checks Have Dropped During COVID
It’s 100+ degrees in Arizona and UV exposure can cause serious damage to your skin—including causing skin cancer. Spectrum Dermatology is fully reopened and practicing social distancing measures as outlined by the CDC and local agencies.
Many people are carefully reconsidering how safe and comfortable they feel going about their daily lives and tasks, and that has extended to healthcare. Recent reports have revealed that “skin checks” at dermatology clinics have dramatically dropped during the pandemic. In March, when the pandemic first became highly prevalent in the US, skin cancer screenings decreased 86–94 percent around the country compared to the three years prior to COVID. Now that restrictions have started to be lifted around the nation, researchers and dermatologists are hopeful that patients prioritize their skin health once again.
Dermatologists and Skin Cancer
Dermatologists provide two types of care to patients: medical and aesthetic. There are various types of skin cancers, but skin cancer overall is the most prevalent type of cancer in the country. Unfortunately, many people don’t see a dermatologist regularly for an annual “skin check,” and instead seek out dermatological care if and when a mole has become overtly suspicious. All types of skin cancer are quick and easy to treat as long as they are caught in the early stages. An annual skin exam from a dermatologist is the best way to catch and treat skin cancer early.
However, COVID-19 showed us that unprecedented circumstances prevent routine health exams. In weeks past, many patients reached out to Spectrum Dermatology with questions about suspicious moles or brown spots and to get help with at-home skin exams. At-home checks should be a routine part of taking care of your skin even if you do normally keep an annual “mole check” appointment with your dermatologist. It’s best if you have someone you trust helping you to check parts of the skin you can’t see, such as the scalp and back.
How to Perform an At-Home Skin Exam
Look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer when you’re examining your skin at home. Any change in the ABCDEs is a sign that you should call your dermatologist for a skin cancer check. The “A” is for asymmetry, which occurs if half of the mole in question looks different than the other side. “B” is for border, and you want to check if the edges of the mole look irregular, scalloped, or blurred. The “C” is for color, and although moles can come in all shades you’ll want to schedule an appointment if there are multiple colors in a single mole. “D” is for diameter. Moles come in many sizes, but melanoma—the deadliest of skin cancers—are commonly found in moles that are larger than the head of a pencil eraser. Finally, “E” is for evolving. If you notice a mole changing in any regard, that’s a red flag and you’ll want to have a professional check this mole. It’s a good idea to take photos of suspicious moles so you can easily track these changes.
Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer
If you’re like a lot of people in Arizona, you’ve adjusted to a new way of living and might enjoy an early morning or evening walk, cycling outdoors instead of at the (closed) gyms, or taken up gardening for self-care. These are all great activities, but going without proper sun protection can lead to skin cancer. Remember to wear a medical-grade sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 any time you’re exposed to UV rays. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 75 minutes.
Loose clothing that covers your limbs, brimmed hats, and sunglasses are also easy ways to avoid UV damage. Skin cancer can happen to anyone, although it’s most common in those with a family history of skin cancer, with fair skin, and those with a history of sun damage. Both the sun’s UV rays and UV rays from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and sun damage.
We understand that you’re taking precautions amidst the re-openings. Your health matters and that includes taking care of the biggest organ you have—your skin. Rest assured that we’re taking every precaution so that you can access dermatological care in a safe, sterile environment. To schedule your annual skin check and get advice on better sun protection, contact Spectrum Dermatology today at (480) 948-8400.