May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month and we at Superior Foot & Ankle Care want to remind our patients that here in sunny Long Beach, CA we are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays for much of the year. Protecting your skin isn’t just something you need to think about when you’re heading to the beach for the day. Protecting the skin on your feet is just as important as the skin on the rest of your body. Did you know that between 3-15% of all melanomas occur on the feet? The sad fact about foot cancers is that they are often not detected in their earliest stages because patients don’t think to look for them there. Below are some common questions about skin cancer to help raise awareness about this disease:
Isn’t it better to get a base tan before vacation rather than spend more hours in the sun?
Using indoor tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma by 74%, squamous cell cancer by 67% and basal cell cancer by 29%. Tanning beds irradiate your body with ultraviolet radiation which is a carcinogen—whether it comes from the sun or a tanning machine. There is no safe level!
Is using a self-tanner safe?
Yes! And, it’s a great way to get the tan look you love without the danger of skin cancer. Self-tanning has come a long way. For a special occasion, you may want to splurge on a professional spray tan but there are plenty of home products that also produce a natural, even-looking tan. Remember to still apply sunscreen as self-tanners do not provide sun protection.
Do laser treatments cause skin cancer?
There are many different types of laser treatments available today that are used to reverse the effects of sun damage and also to treat wrinkles and fine lines. These do not increase the risk of skin cancer and in fact, can reduce risk by treating pre-cancerous lesions.
What are other good ways to prevent skin cancer on my feet?
Use a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours and always after swimming. Avoid being out during the hottest times of the day—10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Be diligent about checking your feet and the rest of your body for changes in spots or moles. Those that are multi-colored, asymmetrical, larger in diameter than ¼ inch, have irregular borders or have started bleeding, itchy or flaking should be reported to our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas immediately. Make an appointment by calling: (562) 420-9800.