As we reach our 60s, we begin to notice a lot of major changes in our skin. We discover age spots, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity.
Some women embrace these skin changes as signs of a long and active life, while others turn to all sorts of products to hide and treat these conditions.
However, there’s something far more sinister than wrinkles that could be happening to our skin, and we can’t ignore these changes as we age.
Let Me Begin with a Story
A close friend of mine recently made a trip to the dermatology clinic. She had a mole under her arm that was causing a lot of irritation, so she decided to have it removed.
The procedure went just fine. However, the dermatologist did a full body skin check and discovered a suspicious-looking mole on my friend’s back. A biopsy revealed abnormal cells of the type that often progress to melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer.
My friend had to return to the clinic for additional surgery to remove a wider area of tissue on her back. Thankfully, the abnormal cells were localized, and the condition was caught in time.
As I heard my friend’s story, I realized how fortunate she was that the problem was caught early. She couldn’t see the mole on her back, so who knows how long it could have gone undetected.
Given a bit more time, the cells could have spread to other parts of her body, resulting in deadly malignant melanoma.
This comes as a good reminder that we all need to monitor and protect our precious skin. Here’s how:
Use Sunscreen Faithfully
We tend to be very particular about making sure our grandchildren use sunscreen, but we often neglect our own skin. Remember to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen even if it’s cloudy outside.
Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes prior to going outdoors. Reapply every two hours, and even more often if you swim or if you perspire a lot.
Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin areas. This becomes even more important if you’re taking medications that make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Protect Your Skin in Other Ways
The sun’s rays are the most intense between 10 am and 4 pm. This is a good time to use clothing and a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection.
Don’t forget to protect your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes by wearing sunglasses. In addition, use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.
Stay Away from Tanning Beds
Many of us are from the generation that believed tanning beds were a safer alternative to the sun. Do you remember getting a ‘base tan’ in a tanning bed before going on vacation?
Today we know that tanning beds are far from safe. Just like natural sunlight, they promote wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, and skin cancer.
Get Routine Skin Checks
Talk with your physician about how often you should have a full body skin check at the clinic. This will vary depending on your family history, history of sunburn or use of tanning beds, and how many moles you have on your body.
Skin cancer likes to hide in all sorts of places. Anticipate that your medical provider will check between your toes, under your nails, and even on your genitals.
Keep an Eye on Your Own Skin
It’s also important to do our own skin checks on a regular basis. Watch for new or unusual growths, sores that are slow to heal, and any changes in the appearance of existing moles. Use a mirror to check those hard-to-see places.
Even if you neglected your skin in younger years, it’s never too late to take steps to protect your precious skin against future damage. And if skin cancer does develop, the prognosis is excellent if it’s caught and treated early.
What do you know about skin cancer? How often do you check your skin with a dermatologist? What cosmetics do you use to protect your skin? Please share below!