- Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment that gives skin its color.
According to data from the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), it is estimated that in Spain around 6,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year. In fact, this pathology can appear as a new mole or in an existing mole that changes shape, size or color over time, also manifesting as a dark and abnormal spot on the skin.
Prevention and early diagnosis play a vital role in the fight against melanoma, since they significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and definitive cure. For this reason, in this article, Dra. Iñiguez, a specialist at the CreuBlanca Dermatology Unit, shares a series of tips to prevent and reduce the risk of developing melanoma.
Avoid exposing yourself to the sun in the central hours of the day. Excessive sun exposure is one of the most important risk factors for melanoma. Limit your time in the sun, especially during the peak hours of ultraviolet (UV) radiation between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 4 p.m. When you are outdoors, wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved clothing.
- Use a sunscreen suitable for your skin type. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Be sure to cover all exposed areas of your skin, and don’t forget your ears, neck, and feet.
- Apply sunscreen every two hours and after each bath. Sunscreen is a crucial tool in protecting your skin from sun damage, including the risk of melanoma. It’s important to reapply the cream every two hours, especially if you’re swimming, sweating, or toweling yourself off, as water and sweat can decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen.
- Pay attention to the appearance of new moles. Knowing your skin well allows you to detect suspicious changes in time. Perform monthly skin self-exams to look for new blemishes, moles, or changes to existing ones. If you notice anything unusual, see a dermatologist.
- See if an existing mole has been altered. Especially if you have a lot of moles, it’s helpful to take pictures periodically so you have a visual reference and can more easily spot changes. If you notice that a mole presents asymmetry, irregular edges, various colors or that it has increased in size, consult a specialist.
- You avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds emit a significant amount of ultraviolet radiation, which can be up to several times more intense than natural solar radiation. This excessive exposure to UV rays increases the risk of damage to skin cells and can lead to the development of melanoma.
- Consider your environment and workplace. Some chemicals and certain jobs can increase the risk of melanoma. If you work outdoors or are regularly exposed to chemicals, take extra precautions and talk to a dermatologist about proper preventative measures.
- Perform regular dermatological check-ups. A professional skin exam can detect early signs of melanoma that you might miss. If you have a family history of melanoma or have many moles, consider visiting your dermatologist at least once a year.
In the fight against melanoma, prevention and early diagnosis are our most powerful allies. Periodic dermatological check-ups are essential to detect skin changes early and prevent serious complications in the future. The CreuBlanca Dermatoogy Unit has the most advanced technology and a multidisciplinary team of highly specialized dermatologists in carrying out dermatological check-ups aimed at preventing and early diagnosis of melanoma, among other types of skin cancer. They will thoroughly evaluate each of your moles, analyzing their shape, size, color and borders to identify any changes or suspicious characteristics, offering you detailed information and personalized recommendations for your skin care.